Target exceeded

Life sciences surge at risk without more facilities

Life science technology is thriving

Scotland’s life sciences sector generated record turnover of nearly £10.5 billion in 2021, new statistics show.

It represents an increase of £1.7 billion on the newly revised 2020 figure and is well above the industry’s target of reaching £8bn by 2025.

However, it comes amid a warning that spin-outs could be lost to England because growing demand is not being met by the provision of available workspace.

Critical work in response to the Covid pandemic is one of the key reasons for a 19% increase in turnover within the space of a year. Business turnover across the sector, which employs more than 44,000 people, has now tripled since 2010.

Innovation Minister Richard Lochhead said: “With Scotland’s world-renowned expertise in innovation, academia and research, our life sciences sector is a strategic economic priority and it’s why, In 2017, industry and government set out a new strategy with a bold aim to increase the value of the sector in Scotland to £8 billion by 2025.

“To surpass this figure by more than £2 billion demonstrates the phenomenal progress being made and is testament to the hundreds of companies and thousands of employees who drive one of Europe’s leading life sciences clusters.

“These figures reflect the vital work undertaken across the sector during the Covid pandemic. This not only saved lives but demonstrated Scotland’s capability to lead in the life sciences arena.

“It is a performance that has positioned us as a global hub for life science innovation and expertise with enormous potential for future growth.”

At an event in Edinburgh today, Chris Dougray, head of development at CBRE Scotland, and his colleague Chris Williams, head of Life Sciences, said further investment in high quality lab and research space is vital if the life sciences sector in Scotland is to continue to grow.

Mr Dougray said: “Edinburgh is already the top spot for innovation in the UK outside the Golden Triangle of Greater London, Oxford and Cambridge, according to research from the British Business Bank, with Glasgow in third place.

“The provision of high-quality Grade A space will be critical to the further development of the science and innovation landscape in Scotland.

“Labs and technology generally consume a great deal of energy, therefore occupiers in the life sciences sector are increasingly calling out for energy efficient labs which can significantly reduce costs as well as helping to minimise carbon emissions.

“Without accommodation to meet the specific needs of occupiers, we risk losing spinouts and talent to England.

“The opportunity is clear but the development of space for second stage businesses that have moved on from start-up stage is desperately needed. That is the challenge we must collectively work together to solve.”

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