Tale of two cities is healthy news for life sciences sector

Queen Elizabeth University Hospital
Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus is the largest critical care complex in Western Europe

The Glasgow BioCorridor and the Massachusetts Life Science Corridor complement each other superbly in world leading research and innovation

by Chris MacDonald

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Scotland is home to the second largest life sciences cluster in the UK and, with over 230 life sciences companies, the Glasgow BioCorridor is the powerhouse of Scottish life sciences.

A world-class life sciences business development environment consisting of state-of-the-art industry infrastructure and extensive R&D centres of excellence underpinned by a robust and innovative partnership of industry, academia and the public sector, the Glasgow BioCorridor spans less than 50 miles with Glasgow city and its universities, research institutes and hospitals sitting at the heart of the region.

Glasgow boasts a world-class talent pool. Of the UK’s 10 core cities, Glasgow – the only metropolitan area in Scotland with the population of the greater Glasgow conurbation numbering 2.3 million – is ranked No. 1 for both the number of life sciences students and graduates – some 10,335 life sciences students with around 3,300 first degree life sciences graduates in 2017.

There are more than 10,000 life sciences employees within the Glasgow BioCorridor, which has attracted such high-profile investors as GSK, ReproCELL Europe, Aridhia and Vascutek.

The largest critical care complex in Western Europe, the $1.35bn Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) campus, puts Glasgow at the forefront of healthcare and innovation across the UK and Europe.

The QEUH campus includes the University of Glasgow’s Imaging Centre of Excellence (ICE) and Clinical Innovation Zone home to the Glasgow-led, pan-Scotland, Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre. The ICE houses the UK’s first ultra-high field 7 Tesla MRI scanner in a clinical setting and provides access to world leading imaging clinical research facilities and collaboration space for industry providing a nexus for academic, National Health Service (NHS) and industrial expertise into brain imaging, further strengthening Glasgow’s position as a world leader in precision medicine.

The Clinical Innovation Zone is a UK Science Park Accredited Facility designed to bring academia, industry and the NHS together in an environment to support collaboration and open innovation. It is already a leading location for precision medicine, attracting companies developing early diagnostics, imaging technologies, data security and analysis of complex ‘big data’.

The $27m Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre enables the development of new products and services for a global market via its platform for collaboration linking Scotland’s expertise, data assets and delivery infrastructure to accelerate the real-world adoption of precision medicine including incubator units for industry.

These developments at the QEUH are collectively expected to create over 500 jobs and deliver added value exceeding $134.5m over 10 years, while boosting Glasgow’s reputation as a global centre of excellence for biomedical innovation.

Anne Murray, Head of Invest Glasgow, says there are real synergies between the Massachusetts Life Science Corridor and Glasgow, particularly a focus on research and innovation.

Anne Murray of Invest Glasgow
Anne Murray of Invest Glasgow highlights synergies between life sciences in the US and Glasgow

“Massachusetts is home to the world’s largest cluster of Life Science and Biotech companies while Glasgow BioCorridor is home to international leaders in precision medicine, medical technology, clinical and translational medicine and pharmaceutical services,” she said.

“Coupled with world-class universities and R&D centres, I have no doubt that companies from the Bay State will recognise the strengths of Glasgow’s life sciences ecosystem and the potential to collaborate.”

Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak, Vice Principal and Head of the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, says that the Glasgow BioCorridor can make a world-class contribution in health and life sciences.

“The sector here is drawing complementary strengths together in a way that is not happening anywhere else in the world,” she said.

Indeed, the Glasgow University Innovation District is an internationally significant location for clinical and research infrastructure. The Interdisciplinary Innovation Zone at the University of Glasgow and the Clinical Innovation Zone on the QEUH campus are the focal point for smart campus, precision medicine and chronic diseases, the nano and quantum world, and cultural and creative economies.

Other R&D centres of excellence located within Glasgow include the Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC), the University of Strathclyde’s purpose-built facility where 850 academics work in partnership with industry tenants focusing on key themes including health technologies and disease management.

Strathclyde Institute of Medical Devices, meanwhile, brings together specialists in engineering, life sciences, physical sciences and the National Health Service to research and innovate future technologies. The institute also assists MedTech companies and their supply chain to enter the global MedTech market.

And the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre is an industryled consortium consisting of GSK, Ineos, Ingenza, Sustainable Solutions, Applikon, HGCA, SASOL, Lucite International and four leading Scottish universities led by the University of Strathclyde.

Glasgow Biomedicine facilitates and supports the initiation of over 600 new trials per annum and typically manages the annual operation of around 1500 trials with an average spend of $21m by bringing together key partners and stakeholders from the National Health Service and academia creating an integrated interdisciplinary centre of excellence for the management and execution of non-commercial and commercial clinical trials research.

The UK’s largest Medical Research Council funded Molecular Pathology Node is focused on the development and delivery of molecular diagnostics in partnership with industry.

The city’s cluster of facilities and infrastructure includes the $6.7m Glasgow Clinical Research Facility (GCRF) for personalized medicine trials in adults and children, which works closely with National Health Service researchers, academic partners, contract research organizations, pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

And based within a designated Enterprise Area, BioCity Scotland is a 130,000 sq. ft. site with specialist industry facilities, home to a growing number of dynamic, successful and growing technologies. MediCity, a subsidiary of the BioCity Group, offers the ideal environment for both start-up and established MedTech and digital health companies to grow.

The 60-acre West of Scotland Science Park, meanwhile, is home to a wide range of companies operating across all areas of the life sciences and technology sectors including ultrasonics, pharmaceuticals, cleanrooms, pre-clinical drug discovery and optolectronics. It is situated close to several leading research facilities, including the Beatson Oncology Centre, one of Europe’s top cancer hospitals, and the new Translational Research Centre, the final element in the Glasgow Centre for Cancer Research.

And for any life science companies from the Bay State considering developing a transatlantic BioCorridor with Glasgow, it is worth noting that Glasgow offers a high quality of life, coupled with cost-effective business costs – labour and property costs are significantly lower compared to Cambridge, Edinburgh and London.

With a range of tailored solutions to meet business requirements provided by a well-established and sophisticated life sciences business support network, including access to extensive inward investment incentives such as job creation and R&D grants, low taxes, dedicated business support and much more, everything is in place to facilitate the successful exploitation of existing synergies between Massachusetts and Glasgow.