Scottish Life Sciences 2017 Year in Review

2017 was another great year for the life sciences in Scotland.  Here, Dave Tudor, Chair of Life Sciences Scotland Industry Leadership Group and Head of GMS Strategy at GSK, reviews some of the highlights.  

It’s been an extremely successful 2017 for the Life Sciences sector and I am delighted to have this opportunity to reflect on just some of the many great things we should all be proud of.

Last year was strong on growth, with a record £152m of investment in our sector and we continue to lead the world in medical innovation, with nine companies reporting positive results from products in clinical trials.

Supporting the Life Sciences Strategy for Scotland, refreshed last February, we also launched a very exciting roadmap to show how new technologies will support the delivery of sustainable production.

Our global reputation continues to grow with the announcement of 3 significant international collaborations in addition to the establishment of company offices, subsidiaries and contracts in the US.

Finally, it was fantastic to see so many people attend our first sector conference, which together with our new website – lifesciencesscotland.com – and the annual awards dinner gives us three brilliant opportunities to stay connected, share, grow and succeed.

Please take the time to read on as I give you more detail of our 2017 successes.

Investment for Growth

Last year saw a record £152 million invested in the life sciences sector – a clear indication that Scotland remains a good place to access risk capital, with the most active business angel network in the UK, a dedicated £47m life science venture capital fund, and co-investment from the Scottish Investment Bank.

Key deals of the year include: Exscientia, Cyclacel, TC Biopharm, Roslin Technologies, Synpromics, Causeway TherapeuticsSawDx, MGB Biopharma, Lamellar Biomedical, Elasmogen, Ryboquin, Enterobiotix, Calcivis, and PhysioMedics. NuCana Biomedical also closed their Initial Public Offering on the NASDAQ raising $114m.

Following a similar trend seen in previous years, international investors have acquired several Scottish companies in 2017.

Sorrento Therapeutics announced its acquisition of Virttu Biologics. Concept Life Sciences continued to increase its presence in Scotland with the acquisition of Edinburgh spin out Aquila Biomedical in October – investing £250K in new equipment at its East Kilbride analytical services site. And to ring in the new year, Canon Medical Systems Corporation completed its acquisition of Toshiba Medical Systems Corporation with the launch of Canon Medical Research Europe Ltd in Edinburgh. Not to mention, Eurofins’ acquisition of Ashwood UK as part of the further expansion of Eurofins’ food testing portfolio, while Solid Form Solutions has very recently been acquired by Avista Pharma.

Besides the great returns for shareholders, this level of acquisition activity goes to show the real quality and attractiveness of Scotland as a leading location to build a thriving life sciences business.

The last twelve months has also welcomed exciting new investors. Expansion is on the horizon, with Kyowa Kiri International planning to expand its Galashields headquarters, with exciting plans also announced by Catalent Pharma Solutions at its Bathgate facility. Data analytics firm Spiritus announced an investment of £3.4 million in a new programming and development centre, focusing on medical safety innovation. While Danish life sciences firm Corporate Health International invested £5.7 million in a new diagnostics centre at Inverness Campus.

Export ambitions will be given a boost thanks to BASF announcing a £2.8m investment in its Calanish facility.

Other developments included charity LifeArc (previously MRC Technology) relocating its Centre for Diagnostics Development to Edinburgh BioQuarter. US Cancer diagnostic company BioClavis created 43 jobs in Glasgow’s Clinical Innovation Zone and Roylance Storage opened a stability storage facility at BioCity Scotland in November.

Cutting the ribbon, the First Minister opened GSK Montrose’s £44m vaccines facility and ReproCELL‘s new European Headquarters in Glasgow. Paul Wheelhouse MSP, the Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy officially opened Eurofins’ Scientific’s expanded pharmaceutical chemistry and microbiology facility in Livingston, part of a £4 million investment.

In the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, Merck announced a £1.3m expansion of their facility in Irvine. Meanwhile, Lonza announced the completion of their expanded clinical trial capabilities, as well as increased development and manufacturing capabilities for specialized drug products utilizing liquid-filled hard capsule (LFHC) technology at its Livingston facility.

We shouldn’t forget the local players who have been on a growth path too. TC Biopharm and Lamellar Biomedical announced expansion of their operations at Maxim Office Park. Synpromics moved to new larger facilities at the Roslin Innovation Centre. While Clintec announced an expansion of their headquarters in Glasgow, being awarded a Queens Award for Enterprise 2017, in the category of International Trade.

Scotland’s Life Science Innovation Leading the World

Scotland has a strong heritage of medical innovation and 2017 continued to produce new ideas and products.  Companies with products in clinical trials with positive results include NuCana, DySIS Medical, Kyowa Kirin International, Novabiotics, Quotient, Lamellar Biomedical, Calcivis, MGB Biopharma, and Omega Diagnostics.

Omega Diagnostics achieved CE-Marking of its VISITECT® CD4 test for supporting the management of people living with HIV. In December, Novabiotics was awarded the most innovative EU Biotech SME.

To encourage growth in the sector, Scotland has invested in infrastructure to underpin innovation. Construction is underway for the new £50m Centre for Tissue Repair at Edinburgh BioQuarter, which will focus on how the body repairs its tissues after injury, seeking new therapies for debilitating diseases of the brain, liver, lung and blood. ‌Opened in March 2017, the Imaging Centre of Excellence (ICE) houses the UK’s first ultra-high field 7 Tesla (7T) MRI scanner, located in a clinical setting at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, the largest acute hospital in Western Europe.

 Sustainable Production is a Key Theme for the Life Sciences Strategy   

In 2017, an innovation roadmap was launched highlighting the sector’s ambition in continuous manufacturing, industrial biotechnology, cell and gene therapy, and automation. We’ve also seen the successful launch of the Life and Chemical Sciences Manufacturing Leadership Programme. With 2018 underway, the second cohort will be put through their paces from late January, with the aim to fulfil the increased need for strong leadership within these growing sectors.  What’s more, the Centre for Crystallisation and Continuous Manufacturing (CMAC) has recently welcomed Pfizer as a Tier 1 partner.

Expanding Internationally

We’re always excited to see Scottish companies and products succeeding in the global marketplace.

Symbiosis pharma opened a US office in Massachusetts in 2017 and Synpromics established a US subsidiary in January 2018. While in September, NHS Research Scotland, supported by Scottish Development International, led a mission to the US to promote Scotland’s world class clinical trial infrastructure.

International collaboration has been a key theme of the past year. In regenerative medicine, Collagen Solutions announced a partnering deal with Insung Medical in South Korea. Censo Biotechnology revealed a strategic collaboration with EvotecAG to expand iPSC drug discovery. And TC BioPharm and Bluebird Bio announced a strategic collaboration to research and develop gamma delta CAR T cell product candidates for cancer immunotherapy. Closer to home, TC Biopharm announced a collaboration with UCL Business to develop a leukaemia treatment. While Censo Biotechnologies and Leeds University will collaborate to develop stem cells to form cancer tissue.

In digital healthcare, Craneware won contracts worth in excess of $11m with hospital operators in the United States, building on longstanding relationships. Snap40 won a £1m NHS contract and Aridhia won a 10 year deal with Great Ormond Street hospital. In November, medical device company Vascular Flow Technologies forged a strategic partnership with Biovic to develop the new Avatar SLF™ Vascular Graft.

In industrial biotechnology, synthetic biology leader Synpromics announced collaborations with GE Healthcare in January, Solid Bioscience in September and UCL in November. Industrial biotechnology firm Ingenza announced a collaboration with Syngenta to advance INABLE® biomanufacturing technologies.

In pharmaceutical services, artificial intelligence leader Exscientia announced a collaboration with GSK, and Sanofi. Meanwhile BioAscent announced an agreement with Pivot Park Screening Services to manage their library of over 300,000 compounds.

Promoting and Connecting the Life Sciences Sector

In addition to launching our new website our new social media channels have launched to provide news and information on all aspects of the life sciences sector.

The Scotsman’s Life Sciences Conference in November, highlighted the opportunity for Scotland’s life sciences community to help realise our strategy ambitions for the sector.

In summary – what a year it’s been. We look forward to updating you on the many exciting developments as 2018 unfolds.

Sign up to the monthly Life Sciences Scotland newsletter to keep up to date with all the latest news and events from our vibrant sector.