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12 days of MedCity milestones at Christmas

2020 has simultaneously been one of the hardest our sector has faced in living memory, as well as the one we can feel most proud of. Our ‘12 days of Christmas’ review of the year shows just how much we have achieved, and how inspiring our cluster’s innovative and collaborative efforts have been. Here are 12 key milestones from MedCity and the ecosystem we represent.

One testing alliance

The London Testing Alliance, brought together by MedCity, is going to deliver over 20,500 extra tests a day as part of the Government’s testing strategy. The alliance brings together world-leading universities, healthcare institutes, industry and pathology service providers from across our region, using untapped resources and building on existing infrastructure to help in the fight against Coronavirus in the coming months. Our Chief Executive, Neelam Patel, said: “We build powerful scientific networks and we’re proud that the latest collaboration we’ve brought together will help expand capacity for COVID-19 testing in the UK.” The first two laboratory sites went live in December. Find out more.

Two virtual investor events

COVID-19 forced our investment events online this year but that wasn’t going to stop us showcasing all the amazing innovation going on across the region. We held two virtual company showcases this year, including our first Advanced Therapies company showcase in November, where four companies pitched to around 70 potential investors. Earlier in the year, our first virtual Investor Hub event took place in May, with five companies pitching to around 80 potential investors. This was the start of some great relationships between investors and innovators, including this month’s Company of the Month, Charco Neurotech, which picked up not one, but two, investors at that event, resulting in the company closing its current round of fundraising with confirmed investment of £545k.

Three major life sciences space announcements

2020 saw exciting infrastructure developments for the life sciences sector in London, with major new workspaces planned in the King’s Cross area. First pharmaceuticals multi-national MSD unveiled plans for a £1 billion research hub. The 10-storey ‘London Discovery Research Centre’ hopes to create jobs for 800 clinical researchers and office staff. Then GSK announced the opening of a £10 million research base, also in King’s Cross which will use AI to find new treatments for cancer and other serious diseases. Most recently, it’s understood that the developments on Reef Group’s Tribeca site, covering 1 million sq ft next to Regent’s Canal in St Pancras, will welcome the life science and digital communities, with space being developed as lab enabled. Our International Director, Phil Jackson, says: “From the very outset we’ve had a relentless focus on growing life science space as a key to achieving our core goal to support the growth of the sector and in turn, the economy, in London.” Read more.

Four vaccine trials

Showcasing just how much our region leads the way for life sciences across the world, there are an impressive four vaccine trials taking place in the MedCity cluster areas. This includes trials of vaccines developed by The University of Oxford, in collaboration with AstraZeneca plc, Imperial College London, Novavax and Janssen.

“Scientists across the globe share a common goal right now – to create a vaccine that means we can live in a COVID-19 free world. World-leading science, research and innovation institutions across our cluster are major players in the development of potential vaccines”. Professor Robin Shattock, Imperial College London

Five years of the DH.L Accelerator

DigitalHealth.London is a collaborative programme delivered by MedCity, and London’s three Academic Health Science Networks. The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme has now been running for five years and in that time has supported 105 SMEs with 114 new pilots of digital health projects. The programme gives bespoke support and advice, access to expert-led workshops and events, and brokers meaningful connections between innovators and NHS organisations with specific challenges. The work aims to speed up the adoption of technology in London’s NHS, relieving high pressure on services and empowering patients to manage their health. A recent evaluation of the impact of the Accelerator so far estimated that for every £1 spent on the programme, over £14 is saved for the NHS. The work supported by the programme is also thought to have created over 500 new jobs in digital health over the last five years. Find out more.

Six London-based advanced therapies SMEs supported through Collaborate to Innovate

Advanced therapies, defined as gene and cell-based treatments, are a fast-growing area of research and innovation in life sciences, with the potential to provide a step-change in the treatment of many diseases. This was the focus of round two of the Collaborate to Innovate programme, which began in 2020. Collaborate to Innovate identifies SMEs with innovation or applied research needs and matches them to university research groups with complementary skills or expertise. Twelve new companies working in advanced therapies have joined the programme this year, of which six are London-based, giving them access to support worth up to £150k each. This support is promoting the transfer of knowledge and expertise across the life sciences ecosystem, with the end goal of commercialising the innovations resulting from these partnerships. Find out more about the Collaborate to Innovate programme and if you’re an SME interested in future opportunities, contact us for more information.

Seven ways our region is unleashing innovation in response to COVID-19

At the end of June we published our Unleashing Innovation report, profiling key examples of the world-leading science taking place across London in response to the pandemic. This was followed by an interactive map which lists over 350 ground-breaking projects across London and the wider south east. These are all contributing in some way to the fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic. The map filters projects by seven main themes: understanding the mechanisms and effects of COVID-19, supporting national and international efforts, treatment, testing and diagnosis, vaccines, mental health, and data and genomics. Explore the map.

Eight organisations working together for the growth of the life sciences sector nationally

In 2020, collaboration has been more important than ever. As a regional cluster, we represent and champion life sciences in London and the Greater South East of England. By working with other regional organisations, we bring greater strength and connectivity to the UK as a whole. This year, MedCity, along with GW4, Health Innovation Research Alliance (HIRANI), Life Sciences Hub Wales, Midlands Innovation, the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA), NHS Research Scotland and the Academy of Medical Sciences, jointly represented the interests of life sciences in the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) consultation on their Place-Based R&D Strategy. This follows on from our new Research England-backed collaboration with the NHSA, in which we are working together to foster economic growth and help speed up the development of health innovations across our regions.

Nine Innovator visa endorsements

MedCity is one of a small number of bodies selected by the home office to review applicants for the Innovator and Start-up visas (and is the only life sciences-focused endorsing body), because of our expertise in the sector. Before endorsing an application, we work with the applicant to review aspects of the business such as their business case, fit for the market and investment plans. This year we supported and endorsed a total of 15 (nine Innovator, and six Start-up) visas for innovative new companies moving to the UK. You can read about one of those companies here.

Ten inspiring company stories

From a blockchain solution to supply chain management, to pioneering medical devices and digital apps, and innovative approaches to creating new lab space, we regularly profile cutting edge medtech companies who can see a solution to a problem and are working all out to solve it. Their work is fascinating, and our chats with company founders show how often the spark of an idea can be traced back to an inspiring human story. If you’d like to be featured in a future newsletter please get in touch. Revisit our company features from the year.

Eleven events connecting us further and wider than ever

Like all organisations we had to adapt our programme of events this year due to COVID-19. We delivered one face to face event for our Advanced Therapies Network in March, before quickly pivoting to online platforms. Since then we’ve mastered the art of virtual events, hosting ten of our own and speaking at many more. This activity has increased collaboration across all our programmes and connected with partners across the globe – from supporting SMEs with practical HR and business advice through our N-Site partnership, to hearing from advanced therapy companies in Japan, the UK and Germany about how their expertise and research was redirected to tackle COVID-19. MedCity’s new Investment Hub events continue to attract angel and larger VC investors from across the world, and our advanced therapy events have incorporated partners from as far afield as Korea.

In total our events activity has reached over 5,000 people this year. We’ve learnt a lot about how to connect nationally and internationally without being able to physically travel, and we look forward to an exciting events calendar next year, supporting our region’s life science ecosystem to connect, collaborate and thrive in 2021 despite the challenges presented by the pandemic.

Twelve months of supporting the life science sector

2020 hasn’t been easy for anyone. We’ve all had to make massive adjustments and deal with a constantly changing environment. The support we provide to the sector has been more important than ever and we hope you’ve benefited in some way from our range of funding, strategic and networking support. We are so proud of how the life sciences sector in our region, and in the whole of the UK, has responded to the challenge and come together in the fight against COVID-19. We’ve been united in our drive to innovate and collaborate across the ecosystem. And going forward we know the life sciences sector will be leading the recovery, both through the development of treatment options and vaccines to protect against COVID-19, and in providing a way out of the pandemic in terms of economic recovery.

If there is any way in particular we can support you in 2021, please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

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