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POSTED ON: 15 April 2016
Artist impression - LCH

A report into London’s new knowledge economy highlights plans for The London Cancer Hub – which aims to be one of the world’s top life-science campuses specialising in cancer – as a prime example of an ‘innovation district’.

The Centre for London, a think tank, included the project among 16 study sites in its new report, Spaces to Think: Innovation Districts and the Changing Geography of London's Knowledge Economy.

The London Cancer Hub is a collaboration between The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and the London Borough of Sutton, with the support of The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and the Greater London Authority.

Plans for the new global hub for cancer research and treatment, to be located at the ICR’s and The Royal Marsden’s Sutton site, were unveiled in February with the publication of a roadmap document.

The Centre for London’s report calls for new spaces in the capital to promote collaboration and for creativity to be at the centre of plans to develop London’s economy for the future.

It highlights a growing trend for London’s universities and research institutions to move out of central London because of high land value and pressure for space, and a shift away from science parks towards mixed-use spaces designed to stimulate collaboration.

The report examines London’s current and planned innovation districts – zones in which related industries are clustered together to stimulate innovation – in an attempt to understand how London’s developing knowledge economy is changing the city’s urban geography, as well as the role played by universities.

'Explicit priority'

“The masterplan of The London Cancer Hub identifies the formation of an innovation district as an explicit priority – attracting the most talented researchers, bringing experts from different scientific fields under one roof, and delivering a public realm development that features retail and a new school,” the report explains. “The centrepiece of this is a Knowledge Centre, combining laboratories, business space, an auditorium and leisure facilities.”

The report highlights how the plans for the Hub – which aims to attract more than £1bn in investment and create more than 13,000 jobs – encourage flexibility in use of space at the site, in particular for commercial space that can be adjusted based on market viability.

It adds: “Design also encourages vertical integration of institutions to encourage collaboration and contact with new businesses. Work is also being planned to re-integrate the site with surrounding places, new routes connecting neighbourhoods, and four public squares.”

Commenting on the report, Kat Hanna, Research Manager at the Centre for London, said: “As a leading global city, London has the skills base, the financial environment, and much of the physical infrastructure to support and sustain its success as a knowledge economy hub.

“Yet increasing pressure for land and an uneven distribution of economic growth and employment is threatening London’s potential. If London is to continue to attract and retain global talent and investment it needs to get the spatial balance right – creating places for innovation, collaboration and wealth creation.”

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