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Science & Technology Series: Enterprise Spotlight

Knowledge Quarter identified as innovation hub for Life Sciences, Data Science and Digital Collections

City, University of London led part of the Science and Innovation Audit to assess the area’s impact

by Sophie Cubbin (Head of Communications and Events)

A Government-sponsored Science and Innovation Audit has revealed that the area of London comprising King’s Cross, Bloomsbury, Angel and Euston contains one of the highest densities of knowledge-based businesses, cultural and scientific organisations anywhere in the world.

This area, known as London’s “Knowledge Quarter” (KQ), contributes significantly to the UK economy with an economic output similar to that of the City of London.

The Audit, sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, highlights the KQ’s role as an ‘incubator for the UK’, developing cutting-edge technology that is subsequently commercialised in towns and cities elsewhere.

It also confirmed the area’s reputation as an international player in:

  • Life Sciences: Emerging Infectious Diseases, including Antimicrobial Resistance; Musculoskeletal Pathology Associated with Ageing; Dementias
  • Cultural Scientific and Heritage Collections: Digital Archiving, Curation and Publishing
  • Data Sciences: Machine Learning, a form of Artificial Intelligence

The KQ’s strength in these fields has led to exciting new cross-disciplinary research, leading to substantial innovation. The report is rich in examples of knowledge-sharing and innovation occurring across the area’s diverse sectors.

City, University of London led on preparing the section of the report related to data science, and more specifically Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

Professor Andrew Jones, Vice-President (Research & Enterprise) at City, University of London said:

City is proud to be playing a distinctive role in the Knowledge Quarter’s ever strengthening global innovation. Our industry-facing research and education in artificial intelligence, deep learning and interdisciplinary data science is a key element of KQ’s innovation ecosystem.

We are very pleased to have been a key mover in this audit, which confirms the significance of the KQ within London’s economy as an engine of scientific development.

Companies that are supported by and spun out of the KQ’s premier-league scientific and research institutions, such as: the British Library; City, University of London; The Francis Crick Institute; the Royal Veterinary College; and University College London, are increasingly having an impact on the global stage, meaning that the KQ has the potential to compete with leading innovation districts like Kendall Square in Boston, USA.

Universities and Science Minister Chris Skidmore said:

“We are world-leaders across a range of science and research disciplines, and the SIAs published today show the whole nation contributes to that reputation. We are committed to building on these strengths and others in our modern Industrial Strategy through the largest increase in science funding in a generation.”

Roly Keating, CEO of the British Library and Chair of the Knowledge Quarter Board, said:

“The Knowledge Quarter offers a unique model for innovation and collaboration. It brings together globally significant research and cultural institutions, fast growing businesses of all scales and a diverse and talented local community, and is located at the hub of a transport infrastructure that connects it easily to the rest of the UK and continental Europe.

"The Science and Innovation Audit has confirmed the remarkable significance and potential of the Knowledge Quarter to accelerate innovation in London and across the country, with growing global impact.”

The KQ is currently attracting significant international investment and talent.  Over the next three years, McKinsey and Company, Facebook and Google will complete construction of their new corporate headquarters. Also in the pipeline is a major extension to the British Library (due 2025), designed to complement the area’s world-leading scientific and cultural facilities.

Read the Summary Report here.

Read the Full Report here.

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