Scotland’s Life Sciences Dinner and Annual Awards | Celebrating Scottish life science achievements in 2018 – a year in review
Scotland’s vibrant life sciences industry contributes more than £3 billion a year to the Scottish economy and is globally recognised for its impact and high levels of innovation.
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Celebrating Scottish life science achievements in 2018 – a year in review

Dave Tudor, chair of the Life Sciences Scotland Industry Leadership Group and newly-appointed managing director of the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre, marks a very significant year for life sciences in Scotland.

I must be getting old – they say the years pass by more quickly as we age, and once again our industry’s annual dinner and awards ceremony is almost upon us.

One reason time has flown past so quickly is because this has been another busy year for our industry.

That’s why it’s important to pause for a moment and take stock on what’s been a bumper time for investment, international expansion, innovation, manufacturing, and improvements to our business environment and infrastructure.

Those achievements took centre stage at The Scotsman life science conference in November, when the latest industry statistics showed the sector’s combined turnover stood at £5.2 billion in 2016, continuing the trend for high growth since 2010 and putting us on track to reach our £8bn target for 2025 set in the refreshed Life Sciences Strategy for Scotland.

What’s equally as impressive is how our sector continues to be the major single contributor to Business Expenditure on Research and Development (BERD), accounting for one quarter of Scotland’s total.

Another record year for investment

Scottish life sciences companies secured a record £85 million of equity investment during the past year, highlighting what we knew from the EY Annual Attractiveness Survey, which hailed Scotland as the most attractive place in the UK to do business outside London in five of the past six years, with one quarter of UK research and development (R&D) investments being made north of the border.

Key equity investments during the past year included funding for AdoRx, BioFilm, Calcivis, CareSourcer, Current (formerly Snap40), DYSIS Medical, Exscientia, Invizius, ScotBio and Ubiquigen.

As well as overseas venture capitalists buying stakes in Scottish companies, international investors also continued expanding their facilities in Scotland.

In April, Terumo Aortic confirmed a £33m expansion of its Inchinnan facility and Quotient opened its Allan-Robb Campus near Edinburgh.

The following month, Merck BioReliance opened its expanded facilities in Glasgow, prosthetics firm Ossur announced a £5.6m R&D investment in its Touch Bionic site in Livingstone, and Canon Medical Research Europe unveiled a £6.6m R&D investment and opened a facility in the Clinical Innovation Zone in Glasgow.

GSK’s active pharmaceutical ingredient centre in Montrose was opened in October by the First Minister.

Last month, Almac Group announced is has brought online a second stream for high-throughput good manufacturing practice peptide production at its Edinburgh facility, and SGS announced the expansion of its biologics, viral vaccine, gene and cell therapy testing capabilities in Glasgow.

Several small businesses also expanded, including Synpromics’ £5.4m investment in R&D and Ingenza, which has moved into facilities at Roslin Innovation Centre.

It has also been a strong year for acquisitions; Solid Form Solutions was bought by Avista Pharma Solutions in January, Wideblue was acquired by Pivot International, and LifeScan Scotland was taken over by Platinum Equity in June, confirming its commitment to Inverness.

I’m delighted to see a growing trend for Scottish companies being acquirers too; in July, Ryboquin bought Nanogenic Solutions, in September Tissue Solutions took over HistologiX, and in November Exscientia acquired Kinetic Discovery.

International expansion

In addition to expansion at home, Scottish companies have continued to penetrate foreign markets through distribution and collaboration agreements.

Collagen Solutions appointed distributors in China, while Sistemic announced a global service and license agreement for its SistemPSCCheck assay with Australian stem cell and regenerative medicine company Cynata Therapeutics.

Omega Diagnostics sealed distribution deals for its HIV test product in three African countries, BDD Pharma and Cingulate Therapeutics announced a license agreement for BDD’s OralogiKTM timed drug delivery technology, and Craneware unveiled further international contracts and celebrated record annual sales.

This year is already proving great for internationalisation, with Emblation launching Swift in the United States, following success of its breakthrough microwave treatment system in the UK, Canada, and Australia.

Edinburgh-based clinical research organisation Caritas Neuro Solutions signed a landmark partnership agreement with an Indian company to run specialist clinical trials across South-East Asia, and Collagen Solutions sealed a ChondroMimetic license and distribution deal in Indonesia.

Pioneering innovation

During a year in which we celebrated 70 years of the NHS, it’s appropriate to salute innovators like Gillian Taylor, the accident and emergency nurse who invented a transfer board with a built-in weighing scale, launched by Marsden.

Gillian is the latest in a long line of pioneers – we celebrated the contribution of her fellow heroes through VisitScotland’s “Legends” campaign. [link to]

Innovation also helped Synpromics to be named as one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the UK last year.

Products and services launched last year included the Calcivis imaging system in the UK, Optos’ Monaco device in Europe and Sartorius Stedim BioOutsource’ assays for the categorisation of new biological entities.

Companies across the sector have achieved significant product development milestones; TC Biopharm manufactured its first allogeneic cell banks, and Glasgow-based MGB Biopharma will conduct a clinical trial in the US and Canada on its Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhoea treatment.

Alva-based Omega Diagnostics manufactured validation batches of a new portable HIV testing kit, Symbiosis secured Food & Drug Administration viral vector process approval, and University of Aberdeen bone graft spin out Sirakoss gained a CE Mark for Osteo3, a nano-synthetic bone graft substitute.

Plus, it’s worth remembering innovation shines across our industry, not simply within human medicine, a fact we’ll celebrate even more when Edinburgh hosts the 2020 One Health Congress covering animal health, aquaculture and agri-tech.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s strong higher education sector continues to deliver world-class research, helping to deliver solutions to global challenges within livestock industries and both veterinary and human medicine.

Business environment and infrastructure

Close collaboration between industry, academia and the public sector

Key to the industry’s strong growth is the support provided by collaboration between businesses, academia and the public sector.

In September, we welcomed a new ministerial co-chair to the Life Sciences Scotland Industry Leadership Group (LSS ILG) – Ivan McKee, minister for trade, investment and innovation – while Joe Fitzpatrick, minister for public health, sport and wellbeing, also joined the LSS ILG.

To further enhance collaboration, the Scottish Health Research & Innovation Ecosystem was launched by the LSS ILG at The Scotsman conference; this new toolkit, developed by Scottish Enterprise and supported by NHS Research Scotland, is a searchable database to simplify how businesses can identify and access NHS, clinical and academic facilities and organisations to work collaboratively.

Ambitious strategies and plans

Ensuring Scotland stays at the forefront of innovation also requires ambitious strategies and plans – Scotland’s Digital Health & Care Strategy, launched in April, highlighted how we will use technology to reshape and improve services, support person-centred care, and improve patient outcomes.

January’s refreshed National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology will transform whole areas in our manufacturing sector to ensure sustainability by developing the circular economy and paving the way for a low-carbon future.

The availability of talent also has a huge influence over where businesses choose to locate and how they can flourish, which is why the skills agenda is so crucial and in May we launched the Life & Chemical Sciences Skills & Investment Plan at Charles River Laboratories in Tranent.

Infrastructure to support innovations and collaborations

For our sector to maintain its leadership in growth and innovation, it is also important to develop the right infrastructure to support innovation and encourage collaborations.

Announced in June, the £56m Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre is a great example of a transformational project for our industry – and I’m honoured to be leading it.

The new centre in Renfrewshire will develop highly efficient and effective technologies enabling industry, academia, healthcare providers and regulators to work collaboratively to address challenges along the medicines supply chain.

Precision medicine

After optimising manufacturing, ensuring the right medicine is provided to the right patient is key; the advent of precision medicine has the potential to transform our approach to healthcare, increasing effectiveness, efficiency and reinforcing the sustainability of our system.

In September, Scotland’s Precision Medicine Summit heard from academics, clinicians and major industry partners, and involved high-level discussions on how to ensure Scotland capitalises fully on its strengths in the field, with the First Minister announcing a £4.2m investment to support developments.

Artificial intelligence will also shape healthcare, including through the £15m Industrial Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research in Digital Diagnostics, which will deliver significant benefits for patients through: the development of solutions for more rapid treatment for stroke; expert chest x-ray reading; rapid and more accurate diagnosis in gynaecological disease and colon cancer; and partly automated mammogram analysis for breast cancer screening.

City Deals

Life sciences featured strongly in two City Deals announced in November, with the Bio-therapeutics Hub for Innovation in Aberdeen securing £20m of capital funding from the UK Government and Scottish Government through the Aberdeen City Region Deal.

The Tay Cities Deal features several life sciences projects, including a £25m investment in the Tayside BioMedical Cluster.

Beyond human health, the Tay deal also includes a £25m UK Government investment in the Advanced Plant Growth Centre and £20m for the International Barley Hub, both based at the James Hutton Institute in Invergowrie.

Supporting your needs in 2019

Life Sciences Scotland started 2018 by asking about your needs to support your growth ambitions.

Throughout the year, we used the survey to guide our priorities; we provided insights and organised events highlighting best practice in securing investment and funding, marketing and sales, and leadership, and we celebrated the rising stars in our sector.

This year, we are once again asking you to tell us what support your business needs – so please take part in the Life Sciences Scotland Annual Survey. [link to]

Scotland is in a strong position to respond to the changing the face of healthcare.  The LSS- ILG are focused on raising the ambition of the sector to deepen collaboration.  We want to win more transformational projects to build capability in Scotland in areas where Scotland have unique advantages and grow our international profile. We also want to encourage businesses to fully utilise all the support that is available to make the right international connections to support their growth plans.

I look forward to celebrating all your successes at Scotland’s Life Sciences Dinner and Awards on 28 February.

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