Scots to benefit from life sciences £250m funding

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SCIENCE minister David Willets is today expected to unveil £250 million in fresh funding for the life sciences sector, which experts say could help to stimulate the industry north of the Border.

The UK government-funded Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is distributing the cash to eight research institutions and their university partners, which are carrying out internationally-important studies.

Edinburgh University’s Roslin Institute – where Dolly the sheep, the world’s first cloned mammal, was created – will receive £23m to carry out research into livestock, including the genetic factors that affect food safety and breeding. Findings from Roslin’s studies will be passed on to industrial partners.

Experts said the cash could also help work being carried out with life science firms.

Scott Johnstone, chief executive of the Scottish Life Sciences Association trade body, said: “It reinforces the Roslin Institute’s position as the leading global centre for animal biosciences.

“The Roslin already has several partners from industry and this new funding should provide the impetus for more.”

Willets will announce the funding at the Babraham research campus near Cambridge.

Speaking ahead of the visit, he said: “This will drive growth, support highly-skilled jobs and keep the UK at the very forefront of bioscience, with benefits ranging from healthcare to energy and global food security.”

The funding is the latest in a series of announcements designed to boost the UK’s life sciences sector. In April, Prime Minister David Cameron extended the coalition’s £180m “biomedical catalyst” fund to turn research into drugs and devices.

Scotland’s life sciences industry employs more than 32,500 and is worth £3.1 billion a year to the nation’s economy, according to Scottish Enterprise.