Genomics England will move HQ to Canary Wharf's new biocluster


Canary Wharf's bid to become a new hub for the life sciences sector in the UK has been given a boost following the decision by Genomics England to relocate to the development.

The organisation – which analyses sequenced genomes for the NHS and helps researchers access and use data to help identify the causes of disease – will "anchor" the new cluster, according to Canary Wharf Group (CWG), which is behind the initiative.

The announcement is an early endorsement of the plan by CWG and partner Kadans to build a 750,000 sq. ft. facility dedicated to a combination of wet lab and office space, revealed in March, intended as a focal point for life sciences companies in London.

The new building is just the first project for the initiative, located on a 3.3 hectare site at North Quay in east London, which aims to revive Canary Wharf's standing as a biopharma location. It was announced three years after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) relocated from the site to Amsterdam as a result of the UK's exit from the EU.

Genomics England will move into space at the iconic One Canada Square skyscraper (pictured) that was the EMA's home before the move to the Netherlands.

The company – currently headquartered at Charterhouse Square in east London – is wholly owned and funded by the UK Department of Health & Social Care, and was set up in 2013 to deliver the flagship 100,000 Genomes Project, one of the world's most advanced genome-mapping projects.

It aimed to make genomics part of routine healthcare in the NHS, create a genomics data resource and stimulate partnerships with biopharma companies on drug discovery projects, and is still generating new findings for participants.

Genomics England has since diversified, with a new strategy – Cancer 2.0 – which aims to shorten the diagnostic times for people with cancer, help clinicians deliver personalised treatments and improve the outcomes for their patients.

Last month unveiled plans to build the world's largest cancer R&D resource, combining information often held in an array of different formats and systems within different health disciplines into an artificial intelligence powered data platform.

As part of the project it will be digitising hundreds of thousands of pathology and radiology images and making it possible to tap into resource data in tandem with clinical genomics data.

"Genomics England is delivering an ambitious agenda, in partnership with the NHS and others, that will ensure the UK continues to lead the world in genomics," commented its CEO Chris Wigley.

"The move to Canary Wharf will enable us to deliver this agenda more effectively, benefitting our workforce as well as moving us to a more modern estate in close proximity to our partners in the NHS and Life Sciences sector."