Major pharmaceutical company chooses White City for new HQ

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Swiss drugs giant Novartis will move its new UK head office at the WestWorks building in Wood Lane

White City’s booming tech hub continues to attract the biggest names as one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies moves in.

Swiss drugs giant Novartis will move its UK head office from Surrey to the WestWorks building in Wood Lane.

It will join the sprawling cluster of major life sciences firms which have made White City the UK’s new capital of life sciences innovation.

Other new arrivals include the $534million-valued Autolus, Synthace and the world’s first bio-tech accelerator RebelBio.

“It’s fantastic to see another major international bio-tech firm moving to White City,” said Cllr Andrew Jones, H&F Cabinet Member for the Economy and the Arts.

“We’re creating a new leading district for life sciences innovation right here in White City as we bring the borough’s local economy into the 21st century. We aim to make H&F the best place to live, work and play in Europe.”

The thriving tech district in White City is a result of the council’s Industrial Strategy (pdf) in partnership with Imperial College London to make the borough a leading destination for the biotech, digital and creative industries.

Innovative hub


White City’s booming tech hotbed includes Yoox Net-A-Porter’s Tech Hub

Novartis will initially take 54,000 sq ft of space on the second floor of the WestWorks building. The offices are part of the White City Place development that was formerly the BBC Media Village.

The life sciences company employs 1,500 people in the UK, of which around 600 staff are to relocate to White City by January 2020.

“Initiatives such as the Industrial Strategy from H&F and its partnership with Imperial College London are important ways to foster collaboration between business, government and academia,” said Haseeb Ahmad, Novartis UK Country President. “It will fuel a world class innovation ecosystem in west London.

“As Novartis pivots to becoming a more focused medicines company powered by data and digital we see White City as the ideal location for us to continue bringing new and innovative medicines and technologies to patients and we look forward to engaging with key stakeholders in the area.”

In good company

Novartis will now join UK biotech start-up Synthace in the former BBC site.

Synthace is the company behind the leading cloud software platform for automating and improving the success rate of biological research and development.

On the other side of White City Place, bio-tech firm Autolus has its office and lab space at the MediaWorks building.

It’s currently developing next-generation programmed T cell therapies for the treatment of cancer.

We’re in White City

White City’s booming tech hotbed also includes Imperial College London’s new innovation and research district, Yoox Net-A-Porter’s Tech Hub and the exciting co-working space, Huckletree West.

Aviation giant Airbus has opened a new office for its defence and space team in Imperial’s innovative I-Hub building in Wood Lane.


Independent virtual reality and augmented reality developer Dream Reality Interactive has been collaborating on a project with Factory 42 to bring people face to face with the legendary Sir David Attenborough

The global aerospace company – which is currently designing an electric-powered passenger jet – has joined other businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs alongside Imperial’s extensive network of researchers, academics and other corporate partners.

Other businesses based at the I-Hub include Polymateria, a pioneering materials company, that has developed a fully biodegradable plastic as they help tackle the global crisis of plastic pollution; Medisieve, the developer of a ground-breaking drug-free malaria treatment and OGCI Climate Investments, a one billion dollar start-up which is developing technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the Central Working co-working space.

Over in Huckletree West, independent virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) developer Dream Reality Interactive worked on a project with Factory 42 to bring people face to face with the legendary Sir David Attenborough in Hold The World - an interactive VR experience in association with Sky and The Natural History Museum.

Dream Reality Interactive is situated in the co-working space which is also home to video games studio Interior Night.

Market fresh


Open Cell co-founders Dr Meany (left) and Helene Steiner

Meanwhile, one of London’s most affordable biotech hubs, Open Cell has set up shop at the Old Laundry Yard in Shepherds Bush Market.

Open Cell held the first bio-tech festival in H&F during London Design Week at the end of September. It showcased some of the newest innovations in the world of bio-design which included the first open access bio lab and biomaterial lab in London.

The affordable bio-tech space, which opened in June, is already thriving with innovative start-ups making bespoke furniture from potato skins to training flies to better pollinate flowers in London’s newest biotech hub.

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