Scots life sciences sector urged to ‘think global’

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SCOTLAND’S life sciences companies should be looking at opportunities in the global healthcare market, according to a senior figure from the Bill & Melissa Gates Foundation.

Ken Duncan, deputy director of discovery and translational sciences at the foundation, will tell delegates at the annual BioDun­dee conference on Wednesday about the opportunities to work with the $36.4 billion (£24.2bn) body.

Duncan, who studied at Edinburgh and Glasgow universities before a career involving spells at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the Wellcome Trust, will outline the institution’s work on diseases such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis in developing countries.

He told Scotland on Sunday: “I would like companies to think about global health and whether the work they’re doing can apply to the areas we work in. We put together networks and work in partnerships with other companies, and so there may be opportunities for businesses to work with out partners too.”

The foundation is working with pharmaceutical giants including AstraZeneca, Bayer and Pfizer.

Gates, who founded software giant Microsoft, set up his foundation in 2000 and acts as chairman of the charity alongside his wife, Melinda.

The Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines in Edinburgh, and the universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Strathclyde are among the Scottish bodies that have received funding from the foundation for their projects.

Scott Johnstone, chief executive of the Scottish Life­sciences Association trade body, said: “Most life sciences companies understand that their markets are global.

“Getting access to this can be challenging but they should not be put off. The benefits in terms of revenues and product development opportunities far outweigh the initial effort.”

Graeme Boyle, manager at Health Science Scotland, the body that brings together hospitals and universities, added: “Scotland has significant strengths in health science innovation in its academic, NHS and industry base. It’s a very competitive market and we must build locally and act globally or risk losing this enviable position.”