'Scottish legends of pioneering invention and medical innovation'
By Julia Brown, Director of Life and Chemical Sciences at Scottish Enterprise
In 1999, Time Magazine named Sir Alexander Fleming in its list of the most important people of the 20th Century. The Nobel Prize-winning Scottish physician, microbiologist and pharmacologist’s best know discovery was the world’s first antibiotic substance, Penicillin in 1928. However, Sir Alexander is far from alone when it comes to Scottish legends of pioneering invention and medical innovation.
From the top selling skeletal muscle relaxant Atracurium, discovered in John Stenlake’s laboratory at the University of Strathclyde, Ian Donald’s pioneering ultrasound scanning in gynaecology, Graham Teasdale and Bryan Jennett’s development of the Glasgow Coma scale, and the development of the MRI body scanner by John Mallard, Scotland has a proven track record of invention and medical advances.
Furthermore, the life sciences industry in Scotland is much broader than simply human health. Scotland also has a rich heritage of pushing forward advances in the fields of animal and plant research, including the development of new varieties of potatoes and soft fruits better suited to cope with our changing climate, and the creation of Dolly the Sheep, the worlds first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell. With such a history, Scotland is well positioned to revolutionise the life sciences landscape of the future.
Scotland has a thriving life sciences cluster, employing over 37,000 people across some 700 organisations. As Scotland is a relatively small country, our life sciences cluster is compact and accessible, so it’s no surprise that it is recognised as one of the best connected and most collaborative in Europe. Life Sciences companies contribute in excess of £4.2bn turnover to the Scottish economy. Since 2010, company turnover increased by 29%, and total employment in companies by 13%.
The ambitious industry led Life Sciences Strategy for Scotland – ‘2025 Vision’ aims to double the industrial turnover of the life sciences sector to £8 billion. Collaborations with partners across the global industry will be key to achieving this growth, and international conventions are important for making the right connections.
Scotland offers outstanding collaboration across academia, government and industry, and we have a world class reputation for providing unique insights into many of today’s global challenges. Scotland is an ideal location to source partners for major Life Sciences projects, with world leading research expertise across human healthcare, animal and plant sciences, aquaculture, agritech and industrial biotechnology. Our National Health Service, collaborating alongside our Scottish universities provides access to cutting-edge drug discovery and development expertise.
Scotland is also the location of choice to outsource preclinical and/or clinical research, find drug manufacture and formulation expertise and get easy access to a comprehensive supply chain. Scotland’s Pharma Services cluster can deliver solutions for drug developers across the full value chain of therapeutic development. Expertise in drug discovery and contract research is complemented by innovative pharmaceutical manufacturing and formulation solutions and a comprehensive range of support services for all phases of drug discovery/development. Therefore, Scotland is well positioned to provide outsourcing solutions to expedite and add value to all international drug discovery and development activities. Scotland is also in the top three centres for drug discovery and development in the UK.
In addition, Scotland has an invaluable resource for the data-driven approach to healthcare of the future, with all patients in NHS Scotland having a unique identifier and electronic health record. Through NHS Research Scotland (NRS) our health service has a single access point for industry, dedicated clinical research facilities and globally competitive approval and start-up times.
Lastly, having a small, stable population, a single unified health system, world-renowned universities, some of the best health data in the world, not to mention a high incidence of complex disease and a dedicated innovation centre, Scotland has all the right ingredients for making new discoveries in precision medicine.
Scotland’s capabilities and opportunities are impressive, but don’t take our word for it: twenty of the world’s top Pharma already benefit from our strengths in precision medicine and population health management, with two of the world’s biggest CROs (Quintiles and PPD) and global players Pfizer and Roche recognising the value of strategic clinical research collaborations with Scotland.
With such a wealth of life sciences research excellence, it is no surprise that Scotland has hosted countless major Life Science congresses, and has a proven track record of making these innovative, pioneering and ambitious – supported by the wealth of academic, clinical and industry expertise, and specialist event management companies that can enhance event programmes.
In Scotland, the opportunity to connect academia, practitioners, researchers, inventors and other healthcare professionals with your delegates offers you powerful engagement opportunities that create lasting legacies for your event, the local Life Sciences community and future generations.
With thanks to Julia Brown and everyone at Scottish Enterprise.