Transport links in Sutton, and the potential for science to drive economic growth, were two of the themes of a visit by Government Minister Lord Prior to The London Cancer Hub.
Lord Prior, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), visited The London Cancer Hub's Sutton site in his capacity as the minister responsible for life sciences.
He was welcomed by representatives of the two main partners in the project, The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and the London Borough of Sutton, and of Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust.
Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of the ICR, spoke to Lord Prior about our ambitions for the hub – which we believe will increase the number of drugs discovered on the Sutton site, and make it more likely that they will reach patients.
World's leading life-science district
The partners aim for The London Cancer Hub to become the world's leading life-science district specialising in cancer research, treatment, education and enterprise.
The party viewed some of the land where new building work will take place – including enabling works that are happening now – and discussed the role of life-science clusters like The London Cancer Hub in the delivery of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy.
This strategy aims to drive growth by investing in key areas of research excellence, building on the strength of collaborations between higher education institutions and the commercial sector. The ICR tops the UK league table for invention income generated from academic-industry collaborations.
On the visit, Niall Bolger, Chief Executive of the London Borough of Sutton, introduced Lord Prior to the regeneration benefits the hub could deliver, the opportunities it will offer for South London and our need to secure investment for transport infrastructure.
Transport for London (TfL) have pledged £70m in funding to extend the existing Croydon tram network South to Sutton. The London Cancer Hub partners are calling for the tram link to extend further south to the campus, as far as Belmont, as well as for improved local train services, more buses and better infrastructure for walking and cycling.
The group also visited laboratories at the ICR where scientists are developing new approaches in diagnostic imaging technology, and pioneering high-intensity focused ultrasound – an emerging technology that aims to treat cancer using sound waves.
We rely on the support of our donors to help fund training for the next generation of young scientists and clinicians who will go on to be leaders in cancer research.
Global centre for cancer innovation
Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of the ICR, said:
“The London Cancer Hub will be a global centre for cancer innovation, providing state-of-the-art facilities and delivering real benefits for patients.
“The hub will bridge the public and private sectors by ensuring academic researchers share space with global and local private enterprises within integrated facilities. We estimate that once fully developed, it will contribute over £1 billion per annum to the UK economy."
“It was a pleasure to host Lord Prior and to show him the exciting and deliverable opportunity we have in the London Cancer Hub. We look forward to convening a further meeting in the near future with Lord Prior and other government colleagues to discuss the next steps in making this a reality.”
London Borough of Sutton Council Leader, Ruth Dombey, said:
“The London Cancer Hub will establish the London Borough of Sutton as a world-leading centre of medical research and excellence. Thousands of employment and training opportunities for local people will be created which will provide a significant boost to the local economy.
“Work has already started on building a new school on the site which will specialise in life sciences and provide our youngsters with exciting opportunities to become the scientists and doctors of the future.”