Cambridge vs Cambridge!

Guest Blog Post by Sura Hussein, Senior Business Development Manager, London & Partners

Reflecting on the fabulous One Nucleus event last week #Genesis2022 I wanted to share some notes on the panel discussing the key ingredients for a successful Life sciences cluster.

The stage was an upbeat debate with the playful title which was Cambridge UK vs Cambridge MA / USA.

The Debaters were: Catherine Stace, Domainex, Max Bryan, Bidwells, John McCafferty, Maxion Therapeutics, Nick Foster, Metrion Biosciences, Jiahao Huang, Nuclera – chaired by Mike Ward, Clarivate

Taking that I am bias for London – working for London’s business growth and promotion agency London & Partners, I was intrigued to hear where companies who know both ecosystems first hand, see the opportunities and challenges for their respective clusters.

So let’s hear what was said about the UK Golden Triangle – London, Cambridge, Oxford:

-         The UK has all the key stakeholders in very close proximity within a couple of hours radius including the Biotech industry players, Pharma companies, academics, service providers, funding and is driven by a network of diverse organisation that are innovation heavy, as well as the universities with the talent and research expertise.

-         The proximity between London, Cambridge, Oxford makes the cluster very accessible, and it is easier to make bigger an impact in a smaller pond.

-         Lower cost in the UK than the US for real estate – buildings and lab spaces are constructed more sustainable in the UK – however a current lack of lab spaces means that growth might be limited until the new spaces come on the market from 2023/24.

-         Lower cost for staff – also talent moving around less in the UK, quality of life in London attracts global talent.

-         Proximity to the rest of Europe

-         Starting a company in the UK is easy with little red tape, innovation funding at early stage available – however challenges in the growth phase where growth funding in the UK is lacking and companies in the US benefit from a higher risk appetite in the US.

What are the key ingredients for success in Cambridge MA / the Boston area:

-         Funding! Follow the money, that message came through loud and clear!

-         Large pension funds investing heavily in the US life sciences as well as VC’s with higher risk appetite to invest in high risk innovations.

-         Recent IPO comparison – 25 in Cambridge MA vs 9 in the UK (7 of those in the Golden Triangle) (quoting Pitchbook data).

-         1800 VC funds in US and just over 800 VC funds in the UK – higher competition in the US.

-         Lab space availability

-         Access to leading hospitals and universities in Boston area like MIT and Harvard

-         Local government support in Boston area investing in the local infrastructure and promotion

Thanks for everyone sharing their insights with this informative and highly entertaining debate!

Watch a recording of the panel discussion

Looking forward to the next Genesis conference on 7 December 2023 at the Royal Society of Medicine with Tony Jones and his team!

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