Imperial announces plans for London's answer to Silicon Valley

Imperial College London has unveiled plans to create Britain’s answer to Silicon Valley (PA)
Imperial College London has unveiled plans to create Britain’s answer to Silicon Valley (PA)

One of the country’s top universities has unveiled plans to create Britain’s answer to Silicon Valley in West London.

Imperial College London wants to set up Imperial WestTech Corridor as a global hub for science, technology and innovation.

The area would include Imperial’s South Kensington campus, the Paddington Life Sciences innovation cluster which is centred around Imperial’s St Mary’s Hospital Campus, White City, Old Oak and Park Royal transport hubs, and Silwood Park, Imperial’s rural campus near Ascot.

It is hoped the area will become a powerful magnet for investment, economic growth and job creation to rival Silicon Valley in California or Kendall Square in Massachusetts, which has been dubbed the most innovative square mile on the planet.

Hugh Brady, President of Imperial, told the Standard it is fully expected “we will be playing in those big leagues – that’s our ambition.”

The new tech corridor is at the heart of Imperial’s new strategy which was launched this week and sets out plans to use the power of science to “serve humanity.”

Professor Brady said west London already has all the characteristics needed to create a “globally competitive innovation ecosystem.”

These include major research institutions, a diverse and productive population, access to investment, high-quality existing and planned infrastructure including major transport links, and a politicalenvironment that supports planned urban development and growth.

He added: “This defining opportunity will not be realised by Imperial alone. Collaboration of this scale requires an ambitious convener to demonstrate commitment and impact – and that convener is Imperial.”

Professor Brady highlighted the area’s existing world-class assets, which include the ‘Albertopolis’ area in South Kensington and the proximity to Heathrow airport, as well as Imperial’s growing White City campus, Paddington’s Life Sciences cluster and the Old Oak and Park Royal transport hubs.

He said: “Knowing what is available elsewhere in the world that is a pretty impressive menu of innovation assets and partners.”

Professor Brady, who taught at Harvard Medical School in Boston in the 1990s and saw the growth of Kendall Square first hand, added: “Kendall square in Boston is an example of how by joining up academia, industry, local government and national government you can propel an ecosystem to a whole other level of success.”

Referring to the work being done to create Imperial WestTech corridor, Professor Brady said: “Given [the UK is] in recession, we think that as one of the world’s top specialist STEM andbusinesses institutions, there’s an obligation for us to put our shoulder to the wheel on this one.”

Laura Citron, CEO of London & Partners, said: "The vision for the Imperial WestTech Corridor shows the capital’s ambition to lead in innovation globally, which is essential for equipping London to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges like climate change.”