It’s funny writing a ‘Top Biotechs in London’ piece, as despite the UK Capital’s reputation, the number of well-established companies in London is actually lower than I expected…

london_biotech_uk_topThis is in part because London’s identity is more of a research, academia and Startup/spin-off playground for the Sciences. Many university projects initially spin-out into research labs and co-working spaces before establishing themselves outside of the city (due to the extortionate rent) – preferably somewhere in the ‘Golden Triangle‘.

And if they can really afford it, Oxford or Cambridge themselves. So here are some of the better known biotechs in London, along with a few of the thriving startups also in the scene.

P.S. No particular order (or criteria) used.london_top_biotech


Okay, so not strictly in London, but since Heptares Therapeutics is such big news at the moment – and based just a 25 minute train ride outside of the city – I thought we could still sneak this biotech into the list.

Headquartered in Welwyn Garden City, Heptares is a growing name in the biotech field thanks to their CGRP small-molecule program. It currently has partnerships with many huge players in the CNS field.

As discussed before on Heptares’ partnership with US-Israeli Giant Teva, is what makes Heptares such an attractive partner is their GPCR platform. This small-molecule platform has an extensive number of applications and targets available.

Others include a billion-euro discovery deal with Pfizer, a €3Bn deal with Allergan for Alzheimer’s research, and other partnerships with Takeda, MorphoSys, MedImmune and Cubist Pharma (US).


We  met the co-founder of Bento Bio just a couple of months back. As a start-up, Bento Bio’s primary product is the ‘Bento Lab‘, designed as a transportable (and sleek) wet lab to be used by researchers, schools, biohackers and even artists.

They launched a kickstarter campaign last month which reaped incredible results (€168,000), meaning the Bento Lab’s latest prototype is well underway for an October distribution.

The company project was initially a spin-off from the University College London iGEM team, which helped developed the Bento Lab idea into a commercial SynBio product.


Catapult is a big deal in the UK Biotech scene, and their division in Cell and Gene therapeutics (founded in 2012) already has a lot of UK governmental support. It looks to expand Regenerative medicine research and reach within the UK through academic funding and partnership.

Indeed, The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult facilities are on the 12th floor of the Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital (one of the key UK Biomedical research centres). It includes a NIHR lab as well as a clinical research facility, and they are part of the prestigious Academic Health Sciences Centre King’s Health Partnership ‘Belt’.

The UK Government’s Innovate also invested over €78.5M into Catapult’s new manufacturing facility on the Stevenage Biosciences Catalyst Campus. Completion is expected by 2017, with projected commercialisation of products from the facility to generate £1.2Bn by 2020 (80% of which will be through export).


Last April, Silence Therapeutics raised €53.5M by selling two lots of new shares to develop its genetic medicine platform based on RNA interference (RNAi). RNA technology aims to restore missing gene expression or artificially encourage gene expression where it may be clinically useful – and mRNA is a growing area of therapeutic potential.

The news came just a week after the company’ shares jumped more than 20% after the successful preliminary results of its advanced pancreatic cancer phase IIa trials (Atu027). Its market cap now stands at over €93M.


Cell Medica develops, manufactures and markets personalised cell immunotherapeutics for infectious disease and cancer.

Roughly this time last year, it got FDA Orphan Drug Designation for its leading Cancer immunotherapy (CMD-003) under development for Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) positive non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Now it is currently recruiting for a phase II trial (‘CITADEL‘).

Cell Medica is also running phase I/II trials for an antiviral (Cytovir) against the reactivation of adenovirus in immunocompromised children, with recruitment ongoing at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London (to also include also other UK sites).


(© MkaBakov (BigStock ID110993801)

Desktop Genetics is a startup founded in 2012 by three young researchers from University of Cambridge, who were frustrated by the way the field managed gene editing experiments. DeskGen’s platform is an online service that researchers can use to design CRISPR gene editing experiments.

DeskGen has already proven that it can move some money, with a €1.87M fundraising through business angels in 2014.  It has also caught the eye of US Giant Illumina, which was interested in applying DeskGen’s algorithms to NGS for ‘CRISPR Cloud Services‘.

Then in February, it also won a€383K grant from Innovate UK for a collaboration project with the Epigenetics Unit (Cancer department)at Imperial College. They will be at Labiotech Refresh next month competing in the Startup battle.

autolus_biotech_industry_london_topAutolus, is also a spin-off of the University College London (UCL) focusing on the development of next-generation CAR-T therapies, addressing current limitations of this ‘wonder therapy‘.

Denise tried to figure out what exactly Autolus is doing last month, and although it doesn’t disclose so much of its scientific strategy, it certainly seems to have investors convinced. It was founded in early 2015, by UCL Business and Syncona (which committed £30M to the company).

Autolus has now raised around €51.2M (£40M) in a series B round. Part of the money comes from Woodford, arguably the most influential investor in European Life Sciences (and n°1 on our VC Top15).


Eva Diagnostics is an Imperial college spin-off co-founded by alumni Millie-Clive Smith and Toby-Basey Fisher (who will be speaking at Labiotech Refresh next month).

Eva’s AnemiPoint finger-prick diagnostic test for anemia also has in-built connectivity to transmit anonymised data to health management programs. Their other product, HemiStat, looks to monitor blood count in patients receiving chemotherapy (to be launched in 2018).

Having won the €142k (£100k) first prize in the OneStart 2014 competition and further funding from Innovate UK Smart award, Biomedical Catalyst and the Royal Academy of Engineering. AnemiPoint Prototype trials will begin this month, with a launch projected for December.


PolyTherics is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Abzena Group which has a market cap of €68M. and is based at the Cambridge Babraham Research campus.

Specifically, PolyTherics is working to improve drug performance and biologicals through technology involving antibody fragments, enzymes, blood factors, cytokines, novel protein scaffolds and peptides.

They are also investigating antibody drug conjugates (ADC) with a range of novel ThioBridge linkers for cytotoxic drugs in partnership with Biotechs and Big Pharma.


Kesios is a start-up Biotech which has raised over €27M in a series A funding round for its pipeline targeting the fight against Multiple myeloma via the NF-κB pathway. Supporting the lead programme (KS-001), the company also has two second generation programmes under development.

Investors include the Imperial College London venture capitalist spin-off, Imperial Innovations. They also have a really good CEO, Pablo Paoletti, the former president of GSK Oncology. Paoletti is also on the boards of Genmab (Denmark) PsiOxus Therapeutics (our latest biotech of the week, based in the UK), FORMA Therapeutics (US) and Nucana Biomed (Scotland).

After making this list, I was still surprised at how few well-established (non startup) biotechs there were in the city. Were you also? 

We also visited Desktop Genetics & Abzena on the Labiotech Tour UK… Here’s our documentary (individual company interviews on the LB tour site)

Feature Image Credit: A lovely London stereotype
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  • Davidson Ateh

    Nice list – I would have added Magnus Life Sciences (UCL), Spirogen (QMB), hVivo (QMB), Domainex (LBIC) & Canbex (UCL)

    • Thanks Davidson!

      Very helpful. I actually didn’t know Canbex or Spirogen (we will add them to our Biotech map). Although Domainex is based in Cambridge. hVivo is also mistakenly assigned to Cambridge (map glitch we’re fixing). Will look more into hVivo and maybe add it in an update. Thanks again 🙂

  • Lucy

    Nice list indeed!

  • Alex Moreau

    Very interesting list, thank you. At Crown Bioscience we are proud to support several of London’s hottest biotech companies and are always keen to expend our network of collaborators!