FIRST Minister Alex Salmond has hailed the success of bringing businesses, hospitals and universities together on the BioQuarter site in Edinburgh after three more tenants yesterday signed up to take space on the fast-growing science park.
Regenerative medicine outfit R Biomedical and two support firms – patent attorney practice Marks & Clerk and science communication company Science Squared – have each rented space at Nine, the “bio-incubator” centre on the site built by Scottish Enterprise.
Swedish healthcare firm Molnlycke has also doubled the amount of office space it has rented in Nine having only opened its base at the BioQuarter six months ago.
Later in the day, a fourth firm – legal giant Maclay Murray & Spens – revealed it is also opening an office at the BioQuarter.
Salmond told The Scotsman: “In just one day, we’ve gone from seven to ten firms on this site. This demonstrates the benefits of bringing together Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh University’s medical school and these companies on the same site.”
During a tour of Nine, Salmond tested out an eye scanner made by I2eye Diagnostics, which will allow doctors to test the vision of young children and adults with learning difficulties. Scotland on Sunday revealed last month I2eye had won approval to sell its device in Europe and the United States.
Salmond was also shown an MRSA hospital super-bug testing kit being developed by Molnlycke, using technology licensed from Scottish Enterprise.
More than 600 companies are active within Scotland’s £3 billion life sciences sector, together employing 32,000 people. But many commentators have questioned why there are so many small firms and not more large businesses, employing hundreds of staff each.
Lena Wilson, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, said: “Within ten years, I believe that we will be seeing more of those big employers in Scotland. But they won’t just be focused on the domestic market, they will be international in outlook.
“It’s not an either-or situation. If we grow from having 600 companies to 900 companies then some of those will be larger businesses.”
Rhona Allison, senior director of life and chemical sciences at Scottish Enterprises, added that it was important to attract support firms such as Marks & Clerk and Science Squared into developments such as BioQuarter.
“We need to create a support system for life science companies so that they want to set up in Scotland,” Allison said.
“So part of the work being done is to help professionals like patent attorneys set up on site so they can offer quick advice to businesses.”
News of the latest tenants at the BioQuarter came ahead of tomorrow’s Scottish Enterprise life sciences dinner.