Imperial College London

Chancellor discusses future of UK life sciences at Imperial’s White City Campus

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Jeremy Hunt in Puraffinity Labs

The Chancellor visits Imperial startup Puraffinity. Credit: HM Treasury

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt MP hosted the latest ‘Treasury Connect’ conference at Scale Space at Imperial's White City Campus.

It is the third in a series of events based on each of the Chancellor’s five growth sectors: Digital Technology, Green Industries, Life Sciences, Advanced Manufacturing and Creative Industries. 

The event brought together policymakers, academics and leading industry figures to explore how to drive growth across the Life Sciences sector and maintain the UK’s global competitiveness.  

Professor Hugh Brady, President of Imperial College London, and Michael Holmes, Scale Space CEO, welcome the Chancellor of the Exchequer
Professor Hugh Brady, President of Imperial College London, and Michael Holmes, Scale Space CEO, welcome the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The Chancellor was joined by the Rt Hon Michelle Donelan MP, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology; Nus Ghani MP, Minister of State at the Department for Business and Trade and Minister of State for the Investment Security Unit at the Cabinet Office; and Will Quince MP, Minister for Health and Secondary Care. 

At the event, the Chancellor spoke about the “tremendous strength” of Britain’s entrepreneurial companies across life sciences, digital technology, and advanced manufacturing as well as financial services and its “very strong higher education sector. 

“That gives us the ingredients to do something very remarkable, but we don’t underestimate the challenges of getting there” he said. 

Jeremy Hunt speaking

The Chancellor referred to key challenges faced by the Life Sciences sector, including innovation adoption in the NHS, pricing negotiations in the voluntary scheme for branded medicines pricing and access, and questions around clinical trials, onshoring Manfacturing and regulations. 

The Chancellor added: “We are doing it from a very strong base. We have the largest Life Sciences industry in Europe, thanks to the efforts of people in this room. We think this is a really big opportunity for the UK. 

Professor Hugh Brady, President of Imperial College London said: “Imperial’s White City Campus embodies the UK’s science superpower ambitions. In this vibrant part of the capital, academics, clinicians, entrepreneurs and established industry are co-locating and co-creating on an unprecedented scale – driving economic growth, transforming lives, and bolstering the UK’s reputation as a destination of choice for life sciences innovation.   

“We were pleased to welcome The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, and Rt Hon Michelle Donelan MP, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology to White City today to discuss the future of Life Sciences and how we can ensure the UK can position itself at the forefront of this important growth sector.” 

Professor Hugh Brady

Pioneering startup 

During the event, the Chancellor visited the labs of Imperial student startup Puraffinity, based at Scale Space. Puraffinity has developed a pioneering technology that selectively removes PFAS, a class of harmful manmade chemicals termed ‘forever chemicals’, from water. These ‘forever chemicals’ persist in the environment and are connected to severe health effects, such as several types of cancer, decreased fertility and immune system disruption.  

Jeremy Hunt in Puraffinity Lab

Puraffinity’s patented smart adsorbent materials work much more effectively than existing water treatment technologies, selectively targeting PFAS chemicals to remove a higher proportion from water, therefore reducing human and environmental exposure to these harmful chemicals. 

Puraffinity was one of the first companies to take up space in Imperial’s White City Incubator and has been scaling up its business in Scale Space. This White City-based innovation is impacting across the UK with Puraffinity having opened a new manufacturing centre near Middlesbrough.  

Simon Foxon, CTO of Puraffinity, said: "We're delighted to host the Chancellor and showcase our sustainable approach to tackle one of the environmental concerns of our time, forever chemicals. Being aligned on the ambition to build category defining British businesses is essential across all stakeholders of the UK, and we're excited to see such clear support from the government for deep tech companies"

Helping businesses to scale and flourish 

Scale Space, a partnership between Imperial and Blenheim Chalcot - the UK's leading digital venture builder - is a community of scaleups, with over 70 member businesses. 

Located in the heart of the White City Innovation District, Scale Space has 200,000 sq ft of state-of-the-art office, lab and event facilities. After opening in 2020, it is now a thriving community which supports the majority of Blenheim Chalcot's portfolio businesses, as well as other innovative companies with key sector clusters forming around digital tech, AI and life sciences. 

Rt Hon Michelle Donelan MP, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
Rt Hon Michelle Donelan MP, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology

Scale Space helps its member companies to be successful, by connecting them to the people, services and space they need to grow and thrive, with the ambition to transform White City into one of the best innovation ecosystems in the world. 

Michael Holmes, Scale Space CEO, said “We are delighted to have hosted such a productive set of discussions between entrepreneurs, academics, investors and government. Life sciences is a key growth cluster in White City and the broad support shown for the sector today was great to see.”

Innovation district 

Imperial’s White City Campus anchors the White City Innovation District – a new innovation district and hub which boasts a thriving life sciences community and is emerging as an economic and cultural hotspot in West London.  

A series of life sciences companies – including Novartis, Autolus, Gamma Delta and Synthace - are now based residence in the region. 

At its White City Campus, Imperial is bringing academia and business together on an unprecedented scale to support economic growth and local skills, enterprise and innovation with an impact locally and across the UK. 



Joanna Wilson

Joanna Wilson
Communications Division

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Lisa Bungeroth

Lisa Bungeroth
Office of the President


Strategy-decision-makers, White-City-Campus, Enterprise
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