Science

New home for innovative life-science companies opens at The London Cancer Hub

A new incubator and collaboration space for innovative life-science companies whose work is relevant to cancer is opening its doors at The London Cancer Hub in Sutton, south London.

The Innovation Gateway offers laboratory, office and collaboration facilities at the heart of The London Cancer Hub – which aims to become the world’s leading district for cancer research, treatment and commercial enterprise.

The lead partners in The London Cancer Hub, The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and the London Borough of Sutton, are aiming to attract a range of life science companies interested in collaborating or working closely with scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) or other London Cancer Hub occupants.

The Innovation Gateway is also set to be home to a range of innovative spin-outs and start-ups, including those emerging from exciting science at the ICR.

Discussions have already begun with companies interested in taking space at the new Innovation Gateway, which sits right next door to the ICR’s state-of-the art Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery.

The London Cancer Hub is already home to the ICR and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, which together are rated in the top four centres for cancer research and treatment worldwide.

Facilities and equipment

Occupiers of the Innovation Gateway will have opportunities to collaborate with some of the world’s leading academic cancer researchers at the ICR, as well as to access some of its state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, subject to agreements with the ICR – including in the new £75m Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery, which is only metres away.

The Innovation Gateway contains around 6,300 square feet of space, of which about 3,500 square feet is set to be new laboratories.

Facilities will include up to seven individual Category 2 labs, plus shared lab space, up to four company office spaces, a large hot desking area, break-out meeting rooms and kitchen facilities.

Additionally, subject to individual agreements with the ICR, occupiers will have access to a range of facilities at the ICR including:

  • Genomics technologies, such as next-generation sequencing (NGS) -enabling sequencing of samples from cell lines, blood, Formalin-Fixed Paraffin-Embedded (FFPE) material, biopsies, plasma and circulating tumour cells.
  • The ICR’s proteomics facility, which is among the most sophisticated in the UK – with a highly skilled team providing a comprehensive range of proteome analyses and bespoke assay development.
  • Bespoke mechanical and engineering services and 3D printing to design, manufacture, repair or customise equipment in a mechanical workshop.
  • Potentially, light microscopes for all types of tissue and cell analysis, and multi-parameter flow cytometers for analysis and cell sorting.
  • Communal areas including café and catering facilities.

Collaboration

A major draw for companies will be the opportunity to collaborate directly with ICR researchers in a range of areas.

The ICR is already one of the best academic institutions in the world for its partnership with industry, currently collaborating with more than 100 companies. Especially well known for its work in cancer drug discovery, it has discovered 20 drug candidates since 2005 of which 12 have entered clinical trials, often in collaboration with industry partners.

The ICR collaborates with companies across the full spectrum of cancer research, from innovative early-stage research in drug target discovery and validation, development of diagnostics and novel imaging techniques to developing new drugs and other treatments which can be tested in clinical trials, in collaboration with The Royal Marsden.

Researchers at the ICR and The Royal Marsden also jointly lead around 50 early-stage clinical trials of novel drugs at any one time, many through industry partnerships, as well as later-stage clinical trials supported by funding or other resources from major pharmaceutical companies.

Professor Kristian Helin, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said:

 “The opening of the Innovation Gateway is a hugely exciting moment in the development of The London Cancer Hub, and we’re delighted to now be able to offer excellent facilities for life sciences companies of all kinds – as well as collaboration opportunities with leading scientists from across the full spectrum of cancer research.

“We hope to attract interest from start-ups and spinouts, as well as small to mid-sized biotech and technology companies and pharmaceutical companies – working on all manner of products and services – everything from therapeutics and molecular pathology to medtech and AI. Businesses taking space here will also play a vital role in the development of a thriving, collaborative scientific culture at The London Cancer Hub, ahead of future waves of expansion that will see construction of further commercial, scientific and clinical buildings.”

Councillor Ruth Dombey, Leader of Sutton Council, said:

“The Innovation Gateway is the latest step towards making the Council’s ambitious plans for the London Cancer Hub a reality.

“This incubator commercial space is now open for business alongside the world-leading Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery, Maggie’s Centre for cancer care and the Harris Academy science-specialist school. The London Cancer Hub is set to be a hugely exciting new science and research quarter in the capital.

“The Innovation Gateway will be key in supporting this vital work. I look forward to seeing companies move in to create jobs for local residents and put Sutton on the world map for research and drug discovery.”

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