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Scotland to benefit as life sciences attract investors

The planned Life Sciences Innovation Centre in Inverness.

Scotland is perfectly placed to benefit from growing investor interest in the Life Sciences sector, delegates heard at Real Asset Media’s Healthy Cities investment briefing, which was held online this week.

“We’ve always been at the forefront of innovation and new thinking,” said Adam McVey, council leader, City of Edinburgh. “Now international capital can see a future in these hubs that offer solutions to humanity’s problems. We’ve mapped out 50 years of growth ahead.”

Several on-going projects – the Edinburgh Bio-Quarter innovation centre, the Life Sciences Innovation Centre in Inverness, the Glasgow City Innovation District – offer investors opportunities and scale.

They are also examples of cooperation and collaboration between the NHS, local authorities, universities and the private sector, to create innovation and develop new products.

Leadership and partnership required to realise potential

“I’ve been really impressed by the commitment to make it happen, the political will, the funding in place,” said Graham Ross, CEO, Austin-Smith: Lord. “It takes leadership and partnership to deliver results, to attract and retain talent, to improve quality of life for everyone. It is very exciting for Scotland.”

The community aspect is crucial, because these innovation hubs are designed to be an integral part of the city, with excellent transport links and a focus on maintaining a sense of community.

“They are an opportunity for placemaking, creating ecosystems that allow the collaborative research environment and bring broader benefits to the communities around,” said Ross.

This can be achieved in many different ways, with a huge spectrum of activities and interventions. Science can have a massive impact on the next generation, so there are mentoring schemes with local schools.

Property professionals have responsibility

It all starts with the building itself, said James Sheppard, head of commercial UK & Ireland, Kadans Science Partner: “We real estate professionals have a real responsibility. We design buildings with ground floors that are open to the public, bringing them in, and everyone responds really well to that.”

The idea is to bring everyone on board, public sector and private companies, academia and health service, scientists and residents.

“We’ve been doing life sciences and innovation for a very long time, but now we are ramping it up,” said Margaret Davidson, council leader, Highland Council. “There’s a new sense of urgency because of the pandemic, but it’s a long-term project to create a world without limits for our young and our old in the Highlands.”

The Life Sciences Innovation Centre in Inverness, located close to the airport, has just gone through the planning process and now “is ready to fly”, said Davidson. “There are massive opportunities here and we haven’t even scratched the surface. I’ve never seen a better time to make this happen.”