Funding for Life Sciences in London

The UK Life Sciences sector is one of the strongest in the world, second only to the US. With the development of MedCity, a centre for excellence in life sciences which consists of dozens of research institutes and universities located in London, the number of start-up businesses and research companies have increased. In 2012, 86% of funding for life sciences institutes went to businesses in London, an increase of 11% when compared to 2009-2011. Public funding and investment opportunities as well as venture capital firms are all available for life science companies and particularly for start-up businesses within the field.

A large percentage of life science start-up companies originate from universities, of which there are many in London. The cluster of businesses in MedCity also brings both investment and career opportunities to London. MedCity, which consists of research, development and manufacturing life science businesses, was awarded £2.92 million from the Higher Education Funding Council for England as well as £1.2 million from the Mayor of London. MedCity has boosted the life science industry in London and UK, which was floundering slightly after the 2008 financial crisis following the dotcom technology bust. A large number of life science companies have now formed headquarters in the UK and this new science park has only encouraged this investment. A biotech float by the biomedical company Circassia sold stock at 320p in March 2014 after announcing a promising cat allergy treatment, giving rise to strong hopes that biotech investment is regaining health. In 2015, the Francis Crick Institute opens in London with a £500 million investment. According to Marcus Ventures, 75% of life science funding was invested in areas within 70 miles of the Houses of Parliament, meaning that the majority of life science investment is focussed within London and its surrounds.

Venture Capital Funding

There are a host of Venture Capital firms operating in the UK, many of them based within London. These offer funding to existing and start-up companies, from amounts as low as £250,000. Venture Capitalist firms have been involved in the start-up of many high impact and innovative world-wide companies, for example Facebook and Skype. Examples of Venture Capitalist firms that work for the life sciences community include Advent Venture Partners and Summit Partners. SV Life Sciences, which manages a total of 5 private venture capital funds, has been running since 1993 and works to ensure the development of important life sciences innovations such as medicines, technologies and diagnostics. Like many venture capitalist firms, it provides funding from the seeding stage right up to late-stage development.

Angel Investors

As well as companies and large-scale investors like venture capitalist firms providing funding for life sciences businesses and research institutes, there is a push recently for individuals to become investors in many innovative entrepreneurial industries. An example of this is Angels in the City, a company which attracts investors who lend not only funding, but their business experience and acumen to start-up entrepreneurs. Angels in the City have brought roughly 300 investors together with 39 companies in the years since its start up in 2011, and raised more than £30 million in investment. In particular, a branch known as 'Angels4LifeSciences' have been established to help with investment in start-up life science businesses. Angels4LifeSciences were originally established in 2012 in order to steer investment towards life sciences institutes, which was perceived to be an area which was challenging to invest in. They, combined with MedCity and London Business Angels have formed 'Angels in MedCity'. Angels in MedCity will bring investors together with companies who focus on the formation of drug therapy and medical technology.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding has recently gained a great deal of attention in many sectors including technology. Crowdfunding consists of a large number of individuals financing businesses and start-up companies by pledging money to them, usually through an online website. While originally directed towards more artistic projects such as film, photography and gaming, crowdfunding has recently become a more credible way for many life science companies to raise funds. Crowdfunding not only provides life science and healthcare companies with vital funds, but allows ordinary people to pledge money to a business which may result in the formation of innovative medicines and healthcare technology which may ultimately save lives.