Alex Salmond announces Inverness set to lead research into diabetes

ALEX Salmond announced last night that Inverness is to become the centre for the worldwide research into diabetes carried out by the international firm LifeScan.

ALEX Salmond announced last night that Inverness is to become the centre for the worldwide research into diabetes carried out by the international firm LifeScan.

While on his trade visit to America, the First Minister revealed that LifeScan is to make a major contribution to a $15 million investment in the capital of the Scottish Highlands.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The investment, the equivalent of £9.53 million, creates just 19 new jobs but it provides funding for a further 1,100 positions which have already been established in Inverness.

While most of the cash comes from the company itself, up to $4.48 million (the equivalent of £2.85m) comes from Scottish Government funds via Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The cash will see Inverness become the new home for all diabetes research and development into blood glucose monitoring carried out worldwide by LifeScan Scotland, which is already Scotland’s largest life sciences company.

The First Minister is on a four-day visit to the US to strengthen economic links. Aside from flying the flag for businesses, his trip has included attending the premiere of the Brave, an animated film based on Scottish characters, and an appearance on the popular chat and variety show the Late, Late Show hosted by the expat Scot Craig Ferguson.

Mr Salmond’s trip has included a keynote speech to the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco, the oldest public affairs forum in America.

He used the speech to declare that Scotland’s expertise in renewables would result in the country becoming the “Silicon Valley” of marine energy.

Yesterday’s announcement was made as Mr Salmond visited the North American commercial headquarters of LifeScan in Milpitas, California.

The First Minister’s visit also saw a live link-up to the company’s Inverness research and development centre.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

LifeScan is recognised as a world leader in blood glucose monitoring, a process that is essential for managing diabetes – a condition which, in its various forms, affects over 200,000 people in Scotland.

The company is already one of the biggest private employers in the Highlands and Islands.

Mr Salmond said: “This is a memorable day for life sciences in Scotland. We are already at the forefront of diabetes research and this commitment to Life-Scan is a further demonstration of the fact that this Highlands base will continue to be a leader in cutting-edge research.

“The research and development money will create new highly skilled, well-paid jobs and will build on Scotland’s reputation for supporting economic growth and innovation.”

The announcement was welcomed in Inverness. Alex Paterson, the chief executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “Millions of people across the world rely on the products developed by LifeScan in Inverness. HIE is delighted to have worked with the company over many years as it has developed its research hub.

“The decision to have the diabetes research and development effort in our region, attracting staff from across the world, is a resounding vote of confidence in our capabilities.”

Tito Bacarese-Hamilton, R&D vice-president of LifeScan for blood glucose monitoring, expressed his gratitude for the public funding.

“We are enormously grateful for this grant, which builds on the strong partnership we have with Highlands and Islands Enterprise,” Mr Bacarese-Hamilton said. “It will allow us to get innovation to the marketplace sooner and contribute further to the prosperity of the Highlands.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

LifeScan’s main product range includes the OneTouch* blood glucose monitoring products and the company intends to continue to develop advanced solutions to meet the needs of people with diabetes. LifeScan Scotland was created in 2001 when Johnson & Johnson acquired the UK assets of Inverness Medical Ltd, a medical-device company established in Inverness in 1995 to design and manufacture glucose test strips and design electronic meters for the global diabetes market.

The company has become a global leader in designing and manufacturing test strips and the electronic meters for monitoring the disease, and has developed diabetes management software, “control solutions” and injection devices.

The presence of LifeScan in Inverness has been a key factor in developing expertise in clinical diagnostics in the north of Scotland, leading to the creation of the Highland Diabetes Institute and other spin-off companies.

Diabetes is now one of the world’s fastest-growing medical conditions.