New £650 million laboratory welcomes the first researchers to begin their collaboration and help strengthen the UK’s world-leading reputation in science.

Backed by £350 million of government investment, the first scientists are moving in and beginning to work in the new Francis Crick Institute – one of the most developed facilities for medical research in the world.

It will support 1,250 scientists in investigating and understanding biological processes that could lead to pioneering drugs and treatments for illnesses such as cancer, stroke and motor neurone disease.

Named after Sir Francis Crick – the British scientist jointly responsible for the discovery of the double helix in human DNA – it is the biggest biomedical research institute under one roof in Europe and will help ensure the UK continues to lead the world in medical discovery and scientific endeavour.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said:

Since the discovery of penicillin, UK scientists have led the way in pioneering scientific and medical breakthroughs that have changed and improved the lives of patients and their families around the world. Our investment in The Francis Crick Institute will ensure the UK continues to harness the strength of our world-leading research base to improve lives, creates businesses and jobs and drive economic growth across the UK.

Science Minister Jo Johnson said:

The Francis Crick Institute is another jewel in the UK’s crown as a knowledge economy, and will help strengthen our position as the partner of choice for researchers around the world. Attracting the best talent, the institute will help turn the discoveries in the labs into life-saving treatments for patients in the clinics.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:

The world-class Francis Crick Institute promises huge strides in health research in the UK, providing our scientists with the facilities they need to carry out ground-breaking research. The institute will help to underpin new research into disease prevention, diagnosis and new treatments that will ultimately bring huge benefits to NHS patients.

Covering 1 million square feet of floor space, the 170 metre long building provides scientists with the most sensitive and advanced research equipment – such as the electron microscopy that allows the most detailed studies of biological structures.

With science in the 21st century requiring greater collaboration across disciplines than ever before, the Institute has been specifically designed to encourage scientists from different teams to work together, with researchers in different fields assigned labs next to each other, and shared facilities, breakout areas and communal work space throughout the building.

Around 250 staff will support the 1,250 scientists who are coming from the recent merger between the Medical Research Council’s National Institute for Medical Research and Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute as well as UCL, Imperial and King’s; with everybody expected to be in the building by early 2017.

The institute is the latest in government support for UK scientists following the real-term protection of the UK’s science budget in the 2015 Spending Review and the Treasury’s announcement earlier last month that it will underwrite all successful applications for European Union Horizon 2020 research funding.

Once fully operational next year (2017), the institute will be open to members of the public thanks to its dedicated public space including a gallery, café and 450-seat auditorium to host local, national and international events, talks and exhibitions. It will also run a schools outreach programme, with a lab dedicated to hosting school visits, helping to achieve its aim of engaging all 27,000 state school children in the local borough.

Crick facts

  • The Crick is 170m long from one end to the other
  • it has a total floor space of 93,000 square metres which is nearly one million square feet (that’s the size of 17.5 football fields)
  • there are 4 floors below ground and 8 above ground (south side) and 7 above ground (north side)
  • there are 1,553 rooms (twice as many as Buckingham Palace)
  • 25,000 sensors constantly monitor heat, light, pressure and humidity (that’s 4 times as many as in The Shard)
  • There are over 100km of mains power cables installed (equivalent to the distance from London to Southampton)
  • the labs have been fitted out with over four kilometres of laboratory benching
  • 99% of the waste and soil removed during construction has been reused or recycled
  • the building incorporates brown roofs (where wild flowers and plants can grow) and bat boxes to encourage wildlife
  • there are 180 bike racks for staff, plus more outside for visitors
  • extensive use of glass in the design allows natural light to flood into the building, and all light fittings are energy-efficient