Life sciences sector set for £40m boost to create North-east hub

Plans for a £40 million investment project that aims to double the number of life sciences businesses operating in the North-east of Scotland have been unveiled.

The new centre looks to double the number of firms operating in the sector across the region. Picture: Jovanmandic.

The Bio-therapeutics Hub for Innovation in Aberdeen, which has secured £20m of capital funding from the UK and Scottish governments through the Aberdeen City Region Deal, will play a key role in the ambitions for the sector in Scotland to grow to an £8 billion turnover industry by 2025.

The new-build facility at the city’s Foresterhill Health Campus will include accommodation for spin-outs, start-ups and established companies as well as shared facilities for events and conferences.

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Businesses will be offered sector-specific support including mentoring, commercialisation and growth planning. The hub will also be a catalyst for international collaborations and investment into research and companies.

A design team has been appointed to support the delivery of the project with a target opening date in December 2020. A planning application for the hub will be submitted in the spring and construction is scheduled to start later in 2019.

Stephen Logan, chair of the Opportunity North East (ONE) life sciences sector board, described it as a “transformational project of national significance”.

“The hub will accelerate company-creation and growth, anchor growing businesses and high-value jobs here long term and be a focal point for innovation and collaboration,” he predicted.

The ONE team, which has committed an additional £3.6m of funding over seven years to operate the hub, is leading the development of the project with partners including the University of Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University, NHS Grampian and Scottish Enterprise.

Caroline Barelle, chief executive of Aberdeen-based biopharmaceutical company Elasmogen, said: “There is a wealth of excellence in the North-east biotech sector with multiple successes across biologics and small molecule drug development, medtech and digital health.

“The creation of the innovation hub will provide a central focal point, a cluster, a heart for this innovation to foster growth and prosperity, benefiting not only the local economy but also the UK and ultimately patients.”

And Dave Tudor, co-chair of the Life Sciences Scotland Industry Leadership Group, said the North-east region has particularly strong academic credentials in the life sciences sector and an innovative company base. “The triple helix of industry, researchers and clinicians working together brings together the strengths of the region to create an ambitious and connected life sciences sector that is ideally positioned to maximise commercialisation opportunities, whether in bio-therapeutics or other healthcare fields,” he said.