Scottish spin-outs buck life sciences trend

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Scotland’s life sciences sector is bucking the UK trend by increasing the number of companies spinning out from universities, according to a report published today.

The number of university spin-outs north of the Border rose by 47 per cent in 2007-11 compared with 2005-9.

While the Scottish total rose, the figure for the UK as a whole dropped by 30 per cent.

Glenn Crocker – chief executive of BioCity, the incubator centre operator that compiled the report – said that he used rolling five-year figures in his report to iron-out anomalies from individual years and to give a better idea of long-term trends.

Crocker said that Scotland’s success was down to Dundee, Edinburgh and Strathclyde universities, including the contribution from Edinburgh BioQuarter, which helps to commercialise university and National Health Service research.

He said that support from Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government was paying dividends for the sector.

Crocker added that the loss of regional development agencies, regional venture capital funds and the university challenge funds south of the Border had also taken their toll.

BioCity operates an incubator centre in Nottingham and in January opened a centre in the former Merck drug plant at Newhouse near Glasgow.

Fraser Black, managing director of BioCity Scotland, added: “It is clear from the report findings that a strong Scottish Government commitment to the sector – combined with the highly-focussed support infrastructure provided by the likes of BioCity Scotland, BioDundee, the Edinburgh BioQuarter and the emerging Glasgow BioCorridor – provide the makings of a global life sciences region.

“On the back of this we are already attracting significant levels of European investment into the sector.

“This must put us in a very strong position to compete for major inward investment and project funding.”