Jane Kennedy: life sciences a key driver of Glasgow's economy

Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. Picture: TSPL
Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. Picture: TSPL
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The latest Life Science strategy for Scotland continues the drive to ensure that Scotland is the location of choice for life sciences businesses, researchers, healthcare professionals and investors whilst increasing the sector's contribution to Scotland's economic growth.

It’s a successful approach. The latest EY attractiveness survey shows Scotland attracted 122 FDI projects in 2016, remaining (for the fifth consecutive year) the most attractive region for inward investment outside London. In addition, Scotland attracted more R&D projects than any other region in the UK.
But the Life Science Sector continues to flourish, not just because of our ability to attract companies to locate in Scotland, but through our indigenous businesses’ International outlook.

Join leading figures from Scotland¹s life sciences community and have your say in shaping the future strategy for Life Sciences in Scotland. Click here for more information and to book your place at the conference

Scotland has worked hard to establish a globally renowned reputation for regulatory standards ensuring we produce commercially competitive quality products and the Life Sciences Strategy clearly defines the need to maintain and build on this attractive business environment.

READ MORE: How can the life sciences sector achieve £8bn turnover target by 2025?
Whilst more than 100 new life sciences companies have been established in Scotland in the last 5 years, investment continues to be a challenge. Although Scotland is second only to London in the UK for the numbers of companies attracting Venture finance, the size of the deals is still relatively small compared to competing regions. Having spent the last few years working with Eden Scott to develop TalentSpark, I understand the need for innovative young businesses to attract highly skilled and motivated staff to drive business growth. Without proper investment companies will struggle to scale.

Infrastructure is also essential in creating the right business environment for a burgeoning life sciences sector, bringing me neatly to the University of Glasgow’s Clinical Innovation Zone at the Queen Elizabeth University hospital, where I am based. The infrastructure at the University hospital campus site has been developed in a unique partnership between the University of Glasgow and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. More medical research is conducted in Scotland per capita than anywhere else in Europe (Lifesciencesscotland.com) and the Clinical Innovation Zone allows industry partners to access University of Glasgow’s internationally renowned researchers, at the heart of Europe’s largest hospital. Collectively, this approach aims to transform the management of chronic diseases globally by accelerating biomedical research through open innovation approaches, resulting in high quality health care provision and economic growth.

READ MORE: More than 700 life sciences companies call Scotland home


Glasgow has a proven track record in medical ‘firsts’ and continues to lead from the front. MRI scanning was first used in a medical context in Glasgow. Fitting then that the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital is home to Scotland’s only 7T MRI scanner (and the only one in the UK fully integrated into a clinical setting), adding ultra-high resolution imaging to our critical mass of clinical research infrastructure. The Imaging Centre of Excellence (ICE) building, part of Glasgow City Region City Deal, will extend Glasgow’s reputation as a world leader in Precision Medicine beyond the ‘omics’ exploring the opportunities to utilise imaging in patient stratification.

As an Edinburgh girl (Morningside no less!) some might find it strange that I am so quick to articulate the merits of Glasgow as a burgeoning life sciences hub, but it’s easy to make the case. Life Sciences is a sector that’s key to the development of Glasgow’s economy. The Life sciences companies located in the city employ over 1,000 highly skilled people and annually generate £99.1 million in turnover and £38.7 million in GVA (Scottish Growth Sector Statistics 2016). The ICE building alone will generate 400 high value jobs for the City, and drive inward investment. That’s why it’s great to see the Scotsman hosting this Life Science Conference in ‘the Weeg’ and we look forward to welcoming our community to Glasgow for the Life Sciences Dinner in February.

• Jane Kennedy is Business Innovation Manager at the University of Glasgow Clinical Innovation Zone, based at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. Jane is also a member of the Industry Leadership Group Business Environment workstream and NXD for Eden Scott’s TalentSpark.