London Medicine

A resource about research and education in London's medical, dental and pharmacy higher education

London's life science industry

The life science industry is comprised of the pharmaceutical, medical biotechnology and medical technology sectors.


In 2010 there were 7,055 life science companies in the UK. There are 995 life science companies in London, 14% of the UK total.

The majority of these companies were in the pharmaceutical sector and a large number were involved in the manufacture of medical and dental instruments.

Source: P. Wetherill (2010). UK Business: Activity, Size and Location – 2010. ©Crown Copyright 2010 Office for National Statistics


With the concentration of medical, dental and pharmacy higher education in London, and the close links between the life science industry and academia, it is not surprising that London has a high number of life science companies start up.

Over the period from 2005-2009 there were 37 life science start ups in London. The graph below shows how this number compares with the other regions in the UK.

Download this chart Number of life science start ups by region, 2005-2009
Source: UK Life Science Start-up Report 2010 by Glen Crocker, BioCity Nottingham

Number of people employed

10,400 people were employed in London’s life science industry in 2009 – 7% of the UK’s life science employees.

The life science industry tends to be comprised of small and medium enterprises. In 2008 73% of London’s life science companies employed 1-4 people, 86% employed 10 people or fewer.

This is broadly similar to the pattern across the UK where 63% of life science companies employed 1-4 people and 77% employed 10 people or fewer.

Source: Adapted from data from the Office for National Statistics licensed under the Open Government Licence v.1.0.