Scots life sciences lead way for start-ups in UK

The findings of the report will be discussed in full by Crocker at anevent in Glasgow next month. Picture: Samuel Kirby.
The findings of the report will be discussed in full by Crocker at anevent in Glasgow next month. Picture: Samuel Kirby.
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Scotland has the highest-ever recorded number of life science start-ups and is the leading UK centre for environmental and agricultural biotech start-ups, according to a new report.

Life science incubator and business collective BioCity has released its UK Life Science Start-Up Report, an in-depth analysis of emerging businesses within life sciences across the UK. It has been authored by BioCity chairman and former chief executive Glenn Crocker.

The number of Scottish life science start-ups ranked the highest ever recorded by the report, with the city regions of Edinburgh and Greater Glasgow among the fastest-growing locations in the country. It also found that companies in the sector are becoming increasingly clustered, with 84 per cent of such start-ups found in just three city regions: Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Greater Glasgow.

The study found Scottish life science firms achieve the highest average amount of grant funding per company. Life science start-ups in Scotland represent about a tenth of the UK total in number but secure more than a fifth of the total UK grant funding, the report found. Grant funding represented about 28 per cent of all funding for companies in Scotland (venture and grant), compared to 5 per cent for companies in London.

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However, Scottish life science start-ups receive just 3 per cent of the total investment made into UK start-ups in the sector.

Strength

Scotland also emerged as the leading centre in the UK in agricultural biotech, clean or environmental biotech, and industrial biotech start-ups. Crocker said: “Scotland is building on its strength in fisheries, arboriculture and related areas.

"A prime example is a company called CuanTec, which takes the waste shells from langoustines (currently an environmental headache) and uses a bacterial fermentation process to extract a highly pure form of chitin from the shells.

"This is then used to make a biodegradable film which can be used to wrap the langoustines on the supermarket shelf. It’s hard to think of many locations outside Scotland this company would be more at home.”

The findings of the BioCity UK Life Science Start-Up Report will be discussed in full by Crocker at an event at BioCity Glasgow on 10 December.