Science meets art at The London Cancer Hub

The ICR's Public Engagement Manager Mariana Campos reflects on a year of cultural activities at one of London’s most ambitious regeneration projects

London Cancer Hub partners lace up to raise money for the ICR

Liam Ronan-Chlond (L) and Daniel May celebrating in ICR running gear

Liam Ronan-Chlond (L) and Daniel May (R) from Socius

Employees from land developer Socius have donned their running shoes to raise money for The Institute of Cancer Research – as members of our 2024 London Marathon team.

Socius’ Head of Engagement Liam Ronan-Chlond and Development Director Daniel May are taking on the iconic course as one of a series of challenges by teams from Socius and colleagues from insurer Aviva.

Socius and Aviva staff are fundraising for the ICR after the companies joined the partnership at The London Cancer Hub in Sutton, south London, which is aiming to make Sutton the home of the world’s leading district for cancer research and treatment.

The companies are currently consulting with local communities as they bring together proposals for a five-hectare site at The London Cancer Hub, that will consist of labs, commercial workspace, accommodation and local amenities. These spaces aim to attract researchers and scientists from around the world, and accelerate the development of ground-breaking cancer treatments.

Other challenges that Liam, Daniel and their colleagues are set to take on to raise money for cancer research include the RideLondon-Essex bike ride and the Great North Run.

Endurance challenges

For keen runner Liam, the London Marathon is one of a series of endurance trials over the summer. Having reached his training peak of a 20-mile run over the Easter Weekend, he ran the Sheffield Half Marathon as part of his preparations for the big day in the capital this Sunday.

“We’ve all been touched by cancer at some point in our lives,” says Liam, “whether personally or through a family or friend. Sadly, half of us will develop cancer in our lifetimes. That’s why the work of The Institute of Cancer Research is so important.”

Newer runner Daniel’s effort is heroic too – having taken on the challenge just two months before the event.

“In a moment of madness, I agreed to run the London Marathon,” he says, “giving me a total of 65 days of training. I've never run more than 10km, I'm not a massive fan of running, and it's never been on my bucket list!”

You can support Liam and Daniel’s efforts directly through their fundraising pages: Liam and Daniel.

Look out on the ICR’s Twitter/X profile for updates from our team on London Marathon day. You can find out more about The London Cancer Hub on the ICR’s website.

Corporate challenges

Would your company like to support the ICR through a corporate partnership? Contact Corporate Partnerships Manager Annie Edwards to find out more at [email protected].

FDA approval for capivasertib: and our new collaboration opportunities for industry partners

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the AKT inhibiting drug capivasertib, now given the brand name Truqap, as a breast cancer treatment. Henry French introduces other current opportunities for industry partners to work with ICR researchers, including in the discovery and development of cancer drugs, and asks – could any become the next capivasertib?

Commercial partnering opportunities in oncology: a new biomarker test to guide treatment for oestrogen-receptor positive breast cancer

In the first of a series on exciting opportunities for industry to collaborate with scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, Andrew Czyzewski looks at a new biomarker test developed by Dr Maggie Cheang and colleagues that could guide breast cancer treatment.

Our successes in partnering with industry in 2022!

Alison Halliday reflects on some of the key achievements from our Business and Innovation Office over the past year.

It’s been a busy year for the Business and Innovation Office here at The Institute of Cancer Research, as we’ve been seeking to foster the interactions with industry that ensure our research leads rapidly to benefits for people with cancer. Read on for just a few of our achievements of 2022.

A CGI image of the Innovation Gateway at The London Cancer Hub

A CGI image of the Innovation Gateway at The London Cancer Hub

Innovation Gateway

The Innovation Gateway – a new incubator and collaboration space for innovative life-science companies – opened its doors at The London Cancer Hub in Sutton, south London in February.

Its creation marked a significant step in realising the vision of The London Cancer Hub, an ambitious partnership led by the London Borough of Sutton and the ICR.

In November, personalised medicines start-up Curesponse – which is developing a platform for evaluating drug response and guiding personalised cancer treatment – became the latest company to move in at the Innovation Gateway.

The medtech company joined a growing innovation ecosystem at The London Cancer Hub, alongside fellow tenants Vesynta – a start-up delivering personalised dosing guided by ‘medicine exposure’ measurements – and The Exercise Clinic, a company offering physiotherapy and exercise regimes for cancer patients.

‘Breakthrough’ in cancer treatment

We’re extremely proud of the latest news from a long-term drug discovery and development programme that’s involved the ICR and the pharmaceutical companies Astex and AstraZeneca.

A new targeted cancer drug called capivasertib – which emerged from that programme –has shown ‘remarkable’ results against advanced breast cancer in a phase III trial.

The development of capivasertib followed years of fundamental research at the ICR, aimed at understanding how the AKT protein – the drug’s target – is regulated. The story provides a compelling example of the ICR’s excellence at translating scientific discoveries about the biology of cancer cells into innovative new cancer treatments, with real benefits for patients.

Capivasertib is also being evaluated in major phase III trials for triple-negative breast cancer and PTEN-deficient prostate cancers – which, if successful, could provide urgently needed new treatment options for other groups of patients with advanced disease that has become resistant to other treatments.

Top marks

We were thrilled that this year to once again rank among the top academic institutions in the UK for generating income from our intellectual property.

The ICR received the fifth highest amount of invention income overall – and the most income per member of academic staff – compared with all other UK higher education institutions in the 2020/21 academic year.

Five months later, we were also rated as one of the UK’s top higher education institutions in the latest Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) – a Government assessment of universities’ influence on society.

Events are back! And new collaboration opportunities

We’ve also been working to showcase our opportunities to forge fruitful new collaborations between our scientists and industrial partners in the future.

Our Partnering to Defeat Cancer series of business networking events returned in July, with ICR scientists giving presentations on their work to an audience of industry professionals before a networking reception.

We’ve been busy creating brochures on licensing and partnering opportunities on highlighted research projects, which are available to download on our website.

And you can watch our new film that introduces our work to commercialise our discoveries, in collaboration with industry partners – featuring ICR scientists, staff from our Business and Innovation Office alongside our commercial partners.

Celebrating a culture of innovation

Closing out an eventful year, the ICR’s staff awards ceremony provided us with an opportunity to celebrate the success of our researchers who are working with industry to translate discoveries into patient benefit.

We warmly congratulated this year’s Innovation category award winners – highly commended Dr Matthew Blackledge, Team Leader in Computational Imaging at the ICR in the Division of Radiotherapy and Imaging, and winner Professor Kevin Harrington, Professor of Biological Cancer Therapies at the ICR and Consultant Oncologist at our partner hospital, The Royal Marsden.

We hope their success will help to inspire others encourage to identify and develop new ideas with commercial opportunity and work in an entrepreneurial way!

Find out more

Contact our Business and Innovation Office to learn more about working with us.

ICR celebrates innovation and commercialisation at staff awards

A recent staff awards ceremony offered an opportunity to celebrate our entrepreneurial culture.

Five reasons why pharma and biotech companies are co-locating with university researchers – and one more reason why you should too!

The Innovation Gateway exterior view (CGI image)

A fundamental shift is happening right now in the UK life-science sector.

Companies have been moving away from the traditional ‘science park’ working model – with stand-alone developments in out-of-town places – and are making major investments in city-based laboratories and workspaces.

Science is increasingly taking place in ‘open collaboration’ between industry, academics, and other partners such as NHS hospitals.

Often these centres are close to universities that are already famous for pioneering new approaches in science, medicine and healthcare. In London, they include Imperial College London and White City, the Francis Crick Institute and the developing Knowledge Quarter in Kings Cross, and us at The Institute of Cancer Research at The London Cancer Hub in Sutton, South London.

But why is this shift happening?

1. Academic innovation and expertise

One of the reasons we’re seeing more life-science developments in UK cities, especially in the ‘golden triangle’ of London, Oxford and Cambridge, is that many of the most innovative new ideas in the sector come from our universities. Companies want to work with academics to develop their ideas and scale up their discoveries.

The development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine is one of the most famous recent examples of academic-industry collaboration, although ultimately, the development of most modern medicines has been underpinned by academic discovery allied with industrial development, from antibiotics to immunotherapy.

At the ICR, the past few years have seen the discovery and development of multiple new cancer drugs, and the development of pioneering new radiotherapy technology, in collaboration with industry partners.

2. Record investment

There is a record level of investment in the UK life sciences right now, according to the latest figures from the BIA, with investment in UK biotech at £4.5 billion in 2021. Venture capital investors are backing biotech companies and we’ve seen notable initial public offerings (IPOs) of companies spinning out from academia – such as Oxford Nanopore and Monte Rosa Therapeutics, the latter of which was originally a spin-out from ICR science and listed last year on New York’s NASDAQ stock exchange.

This kind of investment is leading to a surge in demand for quality laboratory space. MedCity, which represents the life-sciences across London and England’s South East, recently reported a four-fold increase in demand for life sciences real estate over the past five years, and demand is rising faster than supply.

3. Working from home

For property investors – across the world as well as the UK – the life sciences is an attractive proposition partly because of the changes to our working lives caused by Covid.

In a new era of home working for ‘office’ workers, property developments have become more attractive to investors if they include spaces that anchor professionals there – like laboratories, which of course many scientists cannot work without. You can’t work from home if you need a lab!

There was a trend towards major urban developments in the life sciences even before Covid, but pandemic-era announcements by the likes of Merck and AstraZeneca suggest this could be a longer-term change.

4. Intellectual property

Some analysts point to an ongoing transition to open innovation in the Big Pharma business model that involves being receptive to rapidly adopting innovations from outside their own walls, including from the academic sector.

This business model involves shifting some of the focus from in-house research and development to being primed to act when intellectual property, like that emerging from academic institutions and their spin-outs, becomes available – as well as working in collaboration with academics and smaller companies, by co-locating with them.

5. Recruitment

Analysts also point to recruitment as a key strategic reason to be based near cities and academic districts – close to the thriving cultural hubs where people want to live, and where they might find the best new recruits coming straight from the academic centres. And where it is easy to move between different companies as they grow and evolve.

… and 6. The Innovation Gateway

So why should companies looking for lab space consider taking space here at The London Cancer Hub?

Innovation Gateway laboratories interior view (CGI image)

The Innovation Gateway is a new, modern laboratory and collaboration space that is set to become home to a variety of life-science companies – and definitely ticks the box for academic innovation and expertise.

The development contains around 6,300 square feet of space, of which about 3,500 square feet is new laboratory space – and we’re looking for licensees now, especially those working in fields related to oncology.

It’s part of The London Cancer Hub – a partnership led by the ICR and the London Borough of Sutton which aims to generate around 7,000 new jobs in the life sciences, and create the world’s leading life-science campus specialising in cancer research, treatment, education and enterprise.

Modern facilities

Licensees at the Innovation Gateway will benefit not only from new modern facilities in the building itself, but also potential collaborations with scientists at the ICR – which is already a world leader in collaborating with industry partners to translate its discoveries into benefits for patients, including through the discovery and development of new cancer drugs.

There’s also potential access to the ICR’s state-of-the-art scientific and other facilities and a location adjacent to our partner hospital – the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. And all at a location in Sutton, South London, affording easy access into Central London while at the same time being close to the desirable Surrey hills.

One of London’s greenest boroughs, Sutton is also home to some of the UK’s best secondary schools – and there’s even a fantastic new school on site at The London Cancer Hub.

So if you’re a company interested in taking space here, get in touch!

With thanks to Jack Sallabank at Future Places Studio

How we ranked amongst the country’s top universities in the Knowledge Exchange Framework

Dr Angela Kukula, Director of Business of Innovation at The Institute of Cancer Research, reflects on our strong performance in the recent Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), highlighting our excellence in translating our research into patient benefit.

UK life sciences are thriving despite Covid-19 – but choppy waters lie ahead

We’ve seen a surge in commercial investment in UK life sciences, driven by world-class interactions between academia and industry. But cuts to Government and charity funding for academic research could put that all at risk, says Angela Kukula, Director of Business and Innovation at the ICR.

Ten lessons for the life sciences from COVID-19

Dr Angela Kukula, the ICR’s Director of Business and Innovation, asks what the future holds for the life sciences after the COVID-19 pandemic – and how we can ensure the rapid development of COVID-19 technologies happens in other areas too.

What are the biggest issues in drug discovery and development?

Our programme of expert summits is proposing solutions to some of the biggest issues in drug discovery and development, says Director of Business and Innovation Dr Angela Kukula.

Cancer research resumes at The Institute of Cancer Research

Our Director of Enterprise, Dr Angela Kukula, reflects on how our researchers are adapting to the ‘new normal’ two months after we reopened our laboratories.

Cancer research collaborations in the era of COVID-19: force majeure, home working and supporting the NHS

Our Director of Enterprise Dr Angela Kukula gives an update on our response to COVID-19, and discusses how it is affecting our partnerships and collaborations.

What next for UK cancer research in the Brexit era?

Henry French asks how Brexit might affect cancer researchers and their collaborations with life-science companies.

Why the UK is at the forefront of a changing life sciences industry

Dr Angela Kukula, Director of the Enterprise Unit at the Institute of Cancer Research, on the reasons for the UK's continuing strength in life sciences.

BIO 2019: Trends so far at the world’s biggest life sciences partnering conference

Henry French is attending BIO 2019, one of the world’s biggest and most influential annual business partnering conferences in the life sciences, to represent the ICR’s Enterprise Unit and The London Cancer Hub. As #BIO2019 gets into full swing, he gives his thoughts on the convention so far.

Evaluation and our place in the future knowledge landscape

Part 6 of 6: In this final blog in her series on delivering impact and commercialisation from academic research, Dr Angela Kukula considers how to evaluate the difference knowledge exchange teams are making in a highly complex and collaborative field.

Reaching potential licensees and investors: six key tips

Part 5 of 6: In the penultimate blog of this series on achieving impact from academic research, Dr Angela Kukula explores how knowledge exchange professionals can help universities and their researchers to reach potential licensees and investors.

Building an efficient, skilled knowledge exchange office

Part 4 of 6: In her latest blog on delivering impact and commercial opportunity from academic research, Dr Angela Kukula reflects on what makes a successful knowledge exchange office.

How to make academic research count through impact and commercial opportunity

Part 1 of 6: In a new series of blogs Dr Angela Kukula, Director of Enterprise at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, will be reflecting on how higher education institutions can deliver impact and commercial opportunities from their research. In our first post, she reflects on how impact has risen to the top of the Government’s policy agenda.

Technology evaluation, protection and development

Part 3 of 6: Dr Angela Kukula continues her series on delivering impact and commercial opportunity through research. In this blog, she outlines some simple steps higher education institutions can take to steer research along the path to commercialisation.

Identifying knowledge capable of creating impact

Part 2 of 6: Dr Angela Kukula continues her series on delivering impact and commercial opportunity through research. In this blog, she looks at how universities can uncover the knowledge within their walls.

The London Cancer Hub: the story so far

Henry French introduces the latest developments at The London Cancer Hub, a major regeneration project in Sutton, south London, which aims to develop the world’s leading cancer-specialist life-science campus.

Five big challenges facing the life sciences, biotech and pharma sectors in 2019

Henry French introduces five challenges for the life sciences this year.

Let’s celebrate university collaboration with industry

Dr Angela Kukula, Director of Enterprise at The Institute of Cancer Research, calls on universities and businesses to celebrate the range of different collaborations we make.