Bioindustry body urges more venture capitalism

More needs to be done to boost Scotland’s share of UK venture capital (VC) investment in the life sciences sector, according to an industry body.

A total of 17 Scottish-based life sciences companies agreed 20 VC deals. Picture: Getty Images)

The UK Bioindustry Association (BIA) said Scotland has a crucial role as a life sciences hub, but data it provided to Scotland on Sunday revealed that of the £1.15 billion VC investment UK-wide in businesses in the sector 2018, only 3 per cent – equivalent to £31 million – was north of the border. England secured 96 per cent and Wales the remaining 1 per cent.

A total of 17 Scottish-based companies agreed 20 VC deals, with the mean investment just shy of £2m.

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BIA chief executive Steve Bates said the trade body’s data shows that global investors are champing at the bit to invest in the UK life sciences sector.

“Scotland has a long and proud history of supporting and creating innovative biotech companies, which has been a key driver in establishing the UK as the leading life sciences cluster in Europe. Compared to other parts of the UK, Scottish companies have the additional benefit of the Scottish Investment Bank and Scottish Enterprise support – as well as being able to access Innovate UK schemes and HM Treasury research and development tax credits.”

He flagged “fantastic” life science companies in Scotland like cancer-focused NuCana, and bacterial and fungal infection specialist NovaBiotics. “But with Scotland only accounting for 3 per cent of UK life science VC investment overall in 2018, it is clear more work needs to be done to increase and geographically diversify venture capital investment to all areas of the UK.”