Eye’s on Glasgow

Written by Henry Martin on . Posted in FDI

Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city with a growing population of over 600,000 at the centre of a metropolitan area of 1.7 million. It generates in excess of £19 billion GVA per annum and is the fastest growing economy of all major cities in the UK. With a diverse sector base, the city is recognised for its resilience and ability to innovate and reinvent. Glasgow recently launched a new economic strategy with a key strategic objective of making Glasgow the most productive major city economy in the UK. It will look to sectors like life sciences to drive productivity, create high value employment and attract inward investment. Carol Clugston, Chief Operating Officer/College Secretary of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences gives her insights into how this might be achieved.

CEO Insight: How is the Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal acting to create the right conditions to catalyse investment into the life sciences sector?

Carol Clugston: The Glasgow City Region City Deal funding has provided £16m to develop an Imaging Centre of Excellence (ICE) at the new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH), now the largest hospital in Western Europe. Opening in early 2017, the ICE will include Scotland’s first 7 Tesla MRI scanner, an ultra-high resolution scanner which will be one of the first of its kind on a clinical site in the world. Uniquely, ICE will also provide a dedicated floor for industry, sitting alongside world-leading researchers, including clinical academic expertise in stroke, cardiovascular disease and brain imaging. This environment has been designed to encourage open innovation, and has already attracted an SME to re-locate from overseas.

CEO Insight: Can you tell us about new facilities which are set to further enhance Glasgow’s life sciences credentials for investors, and which sub-sectors stand to benefit most from their introduction?

Carol Clugston: The University of Glasgow and NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde have developed infrastructure to provide a focus for innovation and industry collaboration at the new hospital. Uniquely situated in the centre of the hospital campus, dedicated facilities have been created for the pharmaceutical industry and SMEs to engage with clinical academics and NHS clinicians.

The new facilities include:

• A £25 million purpose-built Teaching & Learning Centre, opened in 2015, for the training of undergraduate medical, postgraduate and nursing students alongside NHS staff,

• A £5 million dedicated Clinical Innovation Zone, opened in 2015, incorporating laboratory and office space for industry and the £20 million Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre,

• A £5 million Clinical Research Facility, opened in 2014, ensuring the hospital is at the forefront of clinical trials of new medicines,

• A £32 million Imaging Centre of Excellence (described above),

• The UK’s largest MRC-funded Molecular Pathology Node (£3.4 million), focusing on the development and delivery of molecular diagnostics in partnership with industry.

These facilities will benefit the Life Sciences sector in general, notably in diagnostics, imaging, informatics and precision medicine, but also the supply chain of CROs and laboratory suppliers.

CEO Insight:The Glasgow BioCorridor is home to a significant and growing life sciences cluster. What distinguishes it from other clusters both in the UK and internationally?

Carol Clugston: Scotland is home to the second largest life science cluster in the UK and one of the most sizeable clusters in Europe. The sector is largely focused on human healthcare – making up around 75 per cent of the activity. It has major strengths in medical technology, clinical and translational medicine, pharmaceutical services and regenerative medicine. The Glasgow BioCorridor contributes significantly to the Scottish life sciences offer. From 2008 to 2012, the area was third in the UK for attracting life science foreign direct investment projects (FDI Markets, 2013).

From BioCity Scotland in Newhouse, North Lanarkshire to the GlaxoSmithKline facility in North Ayrshire, the BioCorridor spans less than 50 miles with Glasgow city and its universities, research institutes and hospitals sitting at the heart of the region. A number of leading global companies are established in Glasgow and the wider BioCorridor: GlaxoSmithKline, Thermo Fisher Scientific, BioOutsource and Vascutek. More than 10,300 people work in life sciences in the Biocorridor for some 230 life sciences companies, this comprising 4 per cent of Scotland’s total number of life science enterprises and 50 per cent of Scotland’s medtech companies.

A critical mass of companies together with a dynamic, skilled labour force is present in the region where labour costs are significantly lower than London and Cambridge. As Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak, Vice Principal and Head of the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, puts it, “The Glasgow BioCorridor has the opportunity to 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.”

CEO Insight: How is the successful marriage of industry, academia and the public sector across the Glasgow region best evidenced, and why does this harmonious approach spell such good news for investors?

Carol Clugston: The unique strengths of Glasgow’s collaboration with industry at the QEUH has resulted in numerous accolades in recent years, not least of which was Innovate UK’s decision to locate the Scottish Centre of Excellence of the UK Catapult for Precision Medicine at the QEUH, adjacent to the Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre. The triple helix of industry, academia and the public sector has delivered added value to the Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre by creating a world-leading centre for stratified clinical trials; attracting and enabling SMEs to work alongside SMS-IC; developing a ‘clinical collaboration zone’ for industry, NHS and clinical academics; and leveraging funding for the adjacent Imaging Centre of Excellence that will be unique in the UK. In terms of economic impact to the city of Glasgow, these activities at the QEUH are collectively expected to create over 800 jobs and deliver added value exceeding £100 million over 10 years.

CEO Insight: Which recent investment success stories in the life sciences sector would you point to by way of showcasing the merits of Glasgow for companies looking to relocate, expand or start-up?

Carol Clugston: The city’s investment, through the City Region City Deal, in the Imaging Centre of Excellence is a great exemplar. The facilities created at the QEUH, which are undoubtedly unique in the world, have allowed us to attract world-leading academic expertise from overseas, and also attract two overseas SMEs to set up in Glasgow (from Singapore and Germany). These companies have been attracted by the infrastructure and our academic expertise, but also the ethos of the city which encourages and supports open innovation. This inward investment not only supports the economic development of the city, but also brings new skills (unavailable elsewhere in the UK), and will facilitate innovation in healthcare which will ultimately benefit patients.

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