Scotland’s Life Sciences Dinner and Annual Awards | Diversity in Scotland’s Life Sciences Industry
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.
Scotland, lifesciences, event, awards, business
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Diversity in Scotland’s Life Sciences Industry

As the dust settles on Scotland’s Life Sciences Annual Awards, Deborah O’Neil, Chief Executive of Novabiotics, reflects on the great diversity of our sector and celebrates this year’s impressive shortlist and winners. 

The Life Sciences industry in Scotland is world renowned. And no wonder – such is the diversity across research, companies and talent our sector has to offer. For one small country, Scotland is a global leader in life sciences, with over 700 organisations that employ over 37,000 people and add over £4billion a year to the Scottish economy.

This diversity of our industry was celebrated in the recent Scotland’s Life Sciences Dinner and Annual Awards 2018.

It was great to see balance in the geographical diversity of the companies nominated for awards. The central belt is often seen as the main hub for life sciences in Scotland, but the Awards have done a wonderful job of shining a spotlight on the companies that do amazing, innovative and life changing work right across the whole country – from Edinburgh, to Dundee, to Aberdeen and everywhere between.

Working within drug discovery myself, it’s motivating to see companies from this sector being nominated for these big awards. Drug discovery is one of the highest value sectors within Scottish Life Sciences, developing new therapies and taking them far into the development stages to deal with life threatening diseases. Here in Scotland, drug discovery is an incredibly diverse sector, from biologics to small molecules, infection to oncology, all exemplifying the different models within one small country.

Another benefit of having such a wealth of industry diversity in Scotland is that we have lots of experience in one place – not only in drug discovery but pharmaceutical services, medical technology, digital healthcare and so on – that we can tap in to. This makes Scotland a very attractive ‘target’ for inward investment and international partners, but also facilitates exciting ‘home grown’ collaborations to further our research and truly excel. It’s easy to see why Scotland is one of the best places in the world for life science.

In 2018, it goes without saying that gender diversity is massively important. For many industries, there are barriers and preconceptions when it comes to gender. In Life Sciences, I don’t see any specific barriers or issues for women.

Despite the wealth of female talent underpinning our sector’s success, there are, however, still gender gaps when we look to leadership positions. I’m not sure how we tackle this except to at the very least encourage, support, celebrate, mentor and nominate our female stars for senior roles. Change won’t happen overnight, but it would be great to see more women in leadership roles acting in turn as role models for the next generation of talent.

Another way to encourage and inspire the next generation of great thinkers and leaders – regardless of gender or geography – would be for future Awards to perhaps highlight not only the country’s world-class industry successes, but Scotland’s ground-breaking academic and clinical achievements too. There’s a lot that deserves shouting about.

I’ll finish by celebrating just how phenomenal it is see people being nominated for arguably long overdue awards for their achievements who, in the past, may have been more reticent as regards recognition of their contributions. No matter where you are in the world, you can look at the shortlist and winners and be truly impressed by the names, companies and work being carried out here in Scotland. Our diverse sector is, in short, world class.

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