Updated on 2 May 2012
The BioQuarter facility in Edinburgh, Scotland
Life sciences has been chosen as one of the sectors that the autonomous Scottish government of Mr Alex Salmond is giving special attention to. Scotland is a small country of less than six million people, situated north of England and is part of the United Kingdom. The political leadership of Scotland is sold on life sciences. Ms Nicola Sturgeon, deputy first minister and the cabinet minister for health and well-being, co-chairs the Scotland Life Sciences Advisory Board. Under the power devolution formula devised by the UK, Scotland has its own Parliament and government, and is run by the first minister (equivalent to a Prime Minister) and deputy first minister with a cabinet.
Mr Andrew Henderson of Scottish Enterprises explains, "Scotland has 640 organizations in this field, employs 32,000 people and generates more than $4 billion in annual revenues and the industry has been growing at six percent per annum since 1998." Furthermore, Scotland is one of the world's top five destinations for clinical trials.
An ambitious strategy to double Scotland's life sciences output to $8 billion by 2020 was unveiled in 2005. Some of the identified sectors for growth include stem cells and regenerative medicine, contract manufacturing, clinical trials, medical devices, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
"Scotland has been a hotbed for innovations for centuries. We want to build on it and make it one of the choicest international destinations for innovation, collaboration, manufacturing and services in life sciences and also as a gateway to Europe," says Ms Anne MacColl, CEO, Scottish Development International, during a recent interaction.
High quality human resources coming out of 16 universities, five of which are ranked among the top five in the world's best 200 educational institutions, is one of the major strengths of the country. Physical infrastructure and industry-friendly government policies are an added attraction. The three major life sciences clusters, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee, are separated by 60 km each and has excellent road and rail connectivity for quick movements.
A new 100-acre facility, called the Edinburgh BioQuarter, is coming up in south Edinburgh, adjacent to the Royal Infirmary (a 1000-bed teaching medical hospital), to provide an integrated infrastructure for life science companies. BioQuarter is being built by US-based, Alexandria.