London Medicine

Bringing together London’s medical, dental and healthcare higher education

London’s Life Science Industry

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


    In 2013 there were 4,980 life science companies in the UK. There are around 350 life science companies in London, 7% of the UK total.

    The majority of these companies were in the pharmaceutical sector with London, the East and South East employing 60% of the workforce within the sector.

    In London there are only 5 industrial biotechnology companies (121 in the UK); however these 5 are responsible for 14% of the sector workforce. This is second only to Wales, where there are 20 companies employing 20% of the workforce.

    Source: Bioscience and health technology database: annual report 2013


    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 2005-2011 there were 43 life science university start-ups in London. University start-ups now make up 38% of the total in London. The graph below shows how this compares to the other UK regions.

    Download this chart Regional proportion of life science start-ups from universities as a percentage of the total
    Source: Realignment: UK Life Science Start-up report 2012

    Number of people employed

    13,885 people were employed in London’s life science industry in 2013 – 8% of the UK total and an increase of almost 3,500 since 2010.

    The life science industry tends to be comprised of small and medium enterprises however this is changing as companies expand. In 2013 48% of the UK’s life science companies employed 0-4 people and 71% employed 20 people or fewer.

    Compare this to 2008 when 63% of life science companies employed 0-4 people and 77% employed just 10 people or fewer.

    Download this chart Regional distribution of employment across all life science sectors in the UK
    Source: Bioscience and health technology database: annual report 2013