The history of White City is a story of change.
Over the past 150 years, it has evolved from quiet countryside to the site of great international exhibitions, a place for forward-thinking social housing, the location of a global broadcasting powerhouse and the home of a world famous football club.
Today White City Innovation District is fast emerging as a hotspot for the most innovative sectors in the global economy.
White City hosts the Franco-British Exhibition and the Summer Olympic Games. It attracted more than 8 million visitors and celebrated Britain’s friendship with France after the signing of the Entente Cordiale in 1904.
The exhibition also gave the area its name, a reference to the white stucco buildings erected at the time.
With the disastrous eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy, the 1908 Olympics were relocated to White City as part of the exhibition.
In 1912, Hammersmith Hospital was built as a workhouse infirmary by the Hammersmith Poor Law Guardians.
Its buildings were used during the First World War for military orthopaedics, before it became a general acute hospital in 1926. In 1935 it was chosen as the new home for the British Postgraduate Medical School.
Today, Hammersmith Hospital is part of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and is a specialist hospital renowned for its strong research connections. As well as being a major base for Imperial College London, it also hosts the clinical sciences centre of the Medical Research Council.
In 1917, Queens Park Rangers Football Club moved to Loftus Road Stadium, having had their ground at Park Royal commandeered by the army in 1915.
In 2019 Loftus Road Stadum was renamed Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium after fans were invited to nominate a local charity which would be gifted the naming rights of the stadium.
The White City Estate, one of the most forward-thinking social housing projects of its era, was built on the site of the 1908 Franco British Exhibition.
The construction of the White City Estate began in the 1930s and was finished after the Second World War. It is named after the White City Exhibition that took place on the site in 1908.
The estate was built by the London County Council. 23 blocks were completed by the outbreak of the war, with the rest completed afterwards.
In 1960, the BBC’s iconic Television Centre was opened. It became the largest, and most technologically advanced television studio in the world and was BBC Television’s headquarters until 2013.
Its world-famous, donut-shaped design earned its place in a nation’s consciousness over the next four decades. Parts of the building are Grade II listed, including the central ring and Studio 1.
In 2008, Westfield Shopping Centre opened, and after a 2018 expansion it became Europe’s largest shopping centre.
In 2009, Imperial College London purchased the land that would become its new White City Campus.
In 2012 Stanhope, Mitsui Fudosan and AIMCO snapped up the iconic Television Centre building and White City’s Media Village. White City Place is at the heart of the £8 billion ten-year regeneration of the White City area. Site owners, Cadillac Fairview and Stanhope are responsible for the group of re-imagined buildings – totalling 900,000 sqft of new office space – that have been designed for modern, innovative and creative businesses. Industry giants Novartis, YOOX-NET-A-PORTER, The White Company, Blenheim Chalcot and Publicis Media are now proud to call White City home.
In 2013, land south of the A40 Westway was purchased by Imperial College London to extend its White City Campus to a 23 acre site.
In 2017, the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham launched its industrial strategy, Economic Growth for Everyone, and partnered with Imperial College London to support growth, enterprise and innovation in the area.
The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham’s industrial strategy, Economic Growth for Everyone, aligns life-long education, infrastructure planning and the needs of business. It drew lessons from many other successful economic models, including the Bay Area, replicating the practical links between Stanford University, government agencies, and the vibrant tech sector. The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham used its vision and relationships to accelerate innovation and jobs by changing planning rules to make more affordable, flexible office space available for start-up and scale-up entrepreneurs.
White City Innovation District was born!
In 2018, Imperial College London’s Department of Chemistry moves to the Molecular Science Research Hub at White City which is opened by the Mayor of London.
In 2019, Novartis UK headquarters move to White City Place, and a new residential tower, 88 Wood Lane, opens for residents and key workers.
In 2020, Scale Space – a new community for innovative businesses looking to scale – opens on the south site of Imperial College London’s White City campus.
In 2021, Imperial College London opens The Sir Michael Uren Hub – one of the world’s most significant centres for biomedical engineering.
In 2022, ITV will move all of its London based staff to one location at Broadcast Centre in White City. Stanhope has started the development of Gateway West on behalf of owners Mitsui Fudosan and AIMCo. Gateway West is a new building that will provide 25,000 sq ft of office space when complete in 2022 and will sit alongside Gateway Central the 260,000 sq ft building which has already been part-let to L’Oreal for its new headquarters, with occupancy slated for 2023.
In 2023, Imperial College London’s School of Public Health will open on the north site of its White City Campus.
About White City Innovation District
White City Innovation District is underpinned by the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham’s industrial strategy, Economic Growth for Everyone, and Imperial College’s new White City campus. Together, they laid the foundations for an ecosystem which has since attracted entrepreneurs and established innovators, all seeking new solutions to the world’s greatest challenges.
Tomorrow is made here
“Blenheim Chalcot has been in the borough for more than 20 years and in that time our business has developed over 40 successful digital ventures. We have become UK’s leading venture builder, currently with 20 ventures and 4000 employees. H&F introduced us to Imperial College which led to a joint venture and the building of our new global HQ in White City. We are excited about the prospects for White City which continues to benefit from H&F’s coherent Industrial Strategy.”
Manoj Badale, Co-Founder, Blenheim Chalcot
“As a biotechnology company that is scaling fast, White City is the one place in London where you can get easy access to world-class researchers, talent, lab space and state-of-the-art equipment. The opportunities to collaborate and create value across multiple scientific disciplines are outstanding.”
Anna Perdrix Rosell, Managing Director & Co-founder, Sixfold Bioscience
“The White City Innovation District ecosystem is devoted to scaling businesses like Puraffinity: from experts in Imperial’s network who advised how to commercialise our research, to RCA input at an early stage that improved our product, to our present day at Scale Space where we have access to a suite of diverse experts. We’re proud to be here and excited to give back too – both to fellow startups and the local community.”
Henrik Hagemann, CEO, Puraffinity
“From access to top scientific experts at Imperial College to advice on breaking into new markets, the networks in the White City Innovation District have helped Polymateria thrive.”
Niall Dunne, CEO, Polymateria
“White City is becoming an important hub for the UK life sciences sector. At Novartis, we are pleased to be right in the heart of this thriving health ecosystem. It gives us the exciting opportunity to work in closer collaboration with nearby key partners, including Imperial College London. Such partnerships are enabling greater innovation and helping us deliver on our purpose to reimagine medicine to improve and extend patients’ lives.”
Chinmay Bhatt, Managing Director of Novartis UK, Ireland & Nordics and Country President UK
“White City is a hub of scientific innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and creativity. At OpenCell, we’ve grateful to be part of the networks and collaborations within this unique and dynamic ecosystem.”
Helene Steiner, CEO, OpenCell
In the words of our community.
By bringing diverse people and skills together, White City Innovation District has become a global economic and cultural hotspot, competing with the most advanced economies in the world.
Breakthroughs here are already making a real difference to people’s lives, across the world. International excellence is bringing local benefits too, with great jobs and start-up opportunities for Hammersmith & Fulham residents.
1. Making tomorrow today
In White City, start-ups are working side-to-side with unicorns, like Autolus and Liberis, and established innovators, like Novartis.
Site owners Cadillac Fairview and Stanhope have embarked upon an ambitious range of activity to enhance the local area and raise the profile of White City. Over the last two years, the firms have attracted life science occupiers, Novartis, Autolus, Gamma Delta, Synthace, Open Cell and Adaptate Biotherapeutic to White City Place.
Together, we are making breakthroughs that are shaping tomorrow’s world.
2. Creating the jobs of the future
In the last five years, White City Incubator companies have raised over £100m. These start-ups are now becoming thriving businesses, developing the technologies we need to solve today’s great, global challenges. In the process, 6,400 new jobs have already been created in growth industries, like AI & Software, Digital and Creative, Biotechnology & Pharma and the Green Economy.
3. Fuelling a green revolution
White City’s start-ups are designing and developing the climate solutions of tomorrow, and have created 400 new green jobs in the process.
4. Building a community
1.5 million square feet of high-tech workspace is just the beginning of our development plans. With two thousand new homes on site, White City Innovation District is a place both to work and live.