H&F Leader opens premiere life sciences summit in Britain’s new economic hotspot

The event welcomed industry leaders to H&F to explore opportunities to strengthen the sector and replicate the success of our booming White City Innovation District.

H&F Leader Cllr Stephen Cowan (left) addresses industry leaders in opening speech

Hammersmith & Fulham Leader Cllr Stephen Cowan has opened the 2024 Jawdrop Life Sciences Summit, welcoming industry leaders to Britain’s new economic hotspot.

Held under the theme Tackling Aging, Pandemics, & AMR for a Resilient Tomorrow, this year’s annual conference explored opportunities to strengthen the sector and replicate the success of our booming White City Innovation District.

The area is home to dozens of innovation-driving firms, including biotech giant Novartis, and world-leading university,  Imperial College London. With close links to Hammersmith Hospital, it is the UK’s new capital of life science innovation.

“We’ve attracted £6 billion of growth investment – £1.8bn in life sciences alone – since launching our inclusive Industrial Strategy in 2017,” said Cllr Cowan at the event on Thursday 8 February.

Cllr Stephen Cowan (right) speaking on how life sciences can bring health and wealth to the UK and beyond

Fostering collaboration

An opening panel of entrepreneurs and health tech minds explored the potential of the life sciences sector to promote both health and wealth in the UK and beyond. Cllr Cowan reflected on the “formula” for an ecosystem that could help scale up Britain’s STEM power and win the global race for scientific dominance.

“What’s worked for us is the culture of collaboration that we created here,” explained Cllr Cowan, highlighting the life science boom of the area as a ‘blueprint’ for successful collaboration between industry, research and local authority – a model that could be adopted nationwide.

“Our Industrial Strategy laid the foundation,” he added. “We insisted on building affordable and flexible lab and office space and created a space where the best entrepreneurs and the best scientists can work together to ensure everyone benefits.”

Learn about H&F’s pioneering Industrial Strategy.

H&F Director of Public Health, Dr Niki Lang (centre) speaking at the summit

Levelling the playing field

Hosted by H&F and Imperial College London venture Upstream, panel speakers from industry, academia and finance explored themes of treatment innovation that facilitates healthy ageing.

Dr Niki Lang, Director of Public Health for H&F, spoke about the council’s wider approach to delivering an inclusive public health service.

“Healthy life expectancy isn’t evenly distributed,” she said. “So, we work to level the playing field for everybody.

“People always think that it’s health services that have the biggest impact on people’s health, when in fact it’s only about 20 per cent. Employment, jobs, green spaces, pollution, all those things have a bigger impact, and what we deliver on in the borough.”

Green parklet with cycle storage in Hammersmith Grove

AI innovation for older residents

Other success stories showcased at the summit came from White City companies MediSieve and Esya Labs.

Blood filtration expert MediSieve offers new hope in treating a range of diseases, including Hunter Syndrome, Parkinsons’ Disease and hemophilia by removing harmful substances from a patient’s bloodstream.

“Being located at the heart of the White City Innovation District has been really beneficial to us as we've grown over the past couple of years,” said CEO Dr George Frodsham.

“The most valuable aspect for us is the community that has been created. We get to rub elbows with like-minded people at the cutting edge of their fields, all trying to develop and launch amazing, impactful new products.”

Meanwhile, Esya Labs innovative use of AI promises to make the diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease possible – even before symptoms manifest.

“The White City Innovation District has been a game-changer for Esya Labs,” said CEO and Co-Founder Dhivya Venkat, praising the area’s vibrant community that helped accelerate the company’s breakthroughs in brain health.

“Being here means we're at the heart of innovation, surrounded by the brightest minds and the latest technologies."

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