Five London-based medical research centers have partnered to become Europe's largest Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC). Uniting University College London (UCL) with four of the capital's most renowned hospitals—Great Ormond Street, Moorfields Eye Hospital, the Royal Free and University College Hospital—this venture aims to position London internationally as a hub of biomedical innovation. The new partnership, called UCL Partners, began life last month with a combined annual budget of around £2 billion. Together, the partners will treat 1.5 million patients a year and employ 3,500 scientists, senior researchers and medical consultants. UCL Partners is based on a model well established in North America, and in Europe, deepening the ties between universities and hospitals to inform academic and clinical research, improve professional education and enhance patient care. Such collaborations give rise to spin-off companies that create new treatments. “The clusters do work: they do attract investment,” points out Ernst and Young's London partner, Chad Whitehead. “What investors are looking for is great science and great management teams. If you have that you will get the money.” The UCL partnership follows recommendations made in July 2007 by Health Minister Lord Darzi to establish AHSCs as a way to reform the UK's National Health Service and accelerate the transmission of new ideas from bench to bedside. In the UK, the first AHSC was established in October 2007 when Imperial College London joined forces with Hammersmith and St. Mary's hospitals. Integrated governance is the top criterion that AHSCs must meet. For UCL Partners, this will come from its board, which is made up of the heads of its member organizations, operating under the umbrella of the not-for-profit company UCL Partners. Neil Goodwin, Project Director, says UCL Partners studied the governance arrangements of AHSCs in the US, Europe and Singapore, before choosing Harvard as its role model. In part, this is because the aim is to achieve a similar stature, but also because Harvard's governance model rests on partnerships, rather than central control. “Making this work is about more than being the biggest or having the most money, it is about establishing fruitful and effective partnerships,” he suggests. UCL partners will concentrate initially on ten research areas chosen for London's existing expertise: the nervous system, children's health, heart disease, transplantation, immunology, ophthalmology, deafness and hearing impairment, dental and oral disease, cancer and women's health.