Networking and size attract life science innovators to Scotland

Government research has revealed considerable potential for the life science sector in the UK, and in particular in Scotland.

“I think the growth prospects are very healthy and that’s been backed up by business energy and industrial strategy,” said Marian McNeil, CEO of the Precision Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre.

The Precision Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre (PMS-IC) was formed in 2013 to develop the Scottish precision medicine ecosystem. Based at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, PMS-IC was established by a consortium of partners from four Scottish National Health Service (NHS) health boards, four Scottish universities and two industrial partners in informatics.

“We’ve built up a very strong network, pan-Scotland, of people who have an interest in and an understanding of precision medicine and can deliver results in that area,” McNeil said.

She told Real Asset Insight’s Richard Betts that one of Scotland’s attributes is that, with a population of around five million it is small enough to be well connected “but large enough to matter”. One consequence is that innovation clusters have formed following studies in Aberdeen, Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, the largest acute hospital in the UK has also attracted academics, businesses and industry to establish new studies.

“When you bring all those experts together, that’s when new ideas are generated,” McNeil added. A “living lab” for precision medicine has thus been established in Glasgow. Alongside it is a specially developed innovation zone which is also attracting more companies who like the connectivity of the area as well as the “can-do” attitude.

McNeil said that another attraction is that there is space to expand. “We started off with one clinical innovation zone and that very quickly got companies interested and moved into the area. So the opportunity that the living lab bid has given us is to expand that and build new buildings specifically designed for precision medicine, to help companies come in with purpose-built lab facilities or data centres.”

Click on the video to watch the full interview or listen to the podcast below.