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Julia Brown, the director of life and chemical sciences for Scottish Enterprise, talks about her experience at the Life and Chemical Sciences Showcase.

I recently attended the Life and Chemical Sciences Showcase, one of the Commonwealth market awareness events taking place in Scotland House, home to Team Scotland during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

More than 250 delegates from across the world registered for the event, with exhibitors from 35 different organisations and visitors from China and Ghana.

Julia Brown, director of life and chemical sciences
Julia Brown speaking at the Life and Chemical Sciences Showcase

The event centred around a number of key themes:

  • How great research can be translated into commercial success and how Scotland can support that process
  • How to deal with the challenges of manufacturing
  • How to raise investment to fund product development
  • Cross-sector opportunities in industrial biotechnology
  • Growing opportunities in medtech and digital health

It was a great opportunity to show how Scotland is skilled enough, compact enough and well connected enough to make us a valuable partner for international life and chemical sciences businesses.

A collaborative working environment

Success in the science sectors requires an innovative environment, flexible collaborative approaches and a supportive public sector.
The beauty of working in Scotland's highly skilled community is that it’s compact enough to enable us to know each other well and to work closely together.
There are around 35,000 employees in life sciences businesses and 14,000 in chemical sciences businesses, most of which are all within a 2 hour commute of each other.

The location of the event, the Inovo building in Glasgow, is a good example of industry, public agency and academic collaboration in Scotland. The building was funded by Scottish Enterprise and is at the core of a campus and another £100 million partnership developed with Strathclyde University that brings together engineering, formulation development and manufacturing expertise with industry to generate significant impacts for the chemicals, pharmaceuticals, industrial biotechnology and health technologies sectors.

At the forefront of innovation

Scotland is at the forefront of scientific innovation. Some key examples of areas where we’re leading include:

  • Optos' retinal scanner, which is helping to address disease identification, prevention and monitoring.
  • Gene sequencing at the Thermofishers facility in Inchinnan, which is putting the world firmly on the path to deliver the sub-$1000 genome. 
  • Our leading stem cell company, Roslin Cells, which has been selected to manage the European IPS stem cell bank on behalf of a major consortium.
  • Our national plan for industrial biotechnology, which aims to increase the turnover of manufactured goods that use at least one biological step by at least fourfold by 2020.

We have been fast to embrace new technologies and technical disciplines. For example, we built on world-leading expertise in data informatics and Scotland's unique patient record system to create the Farr Institute for Health Informatics, the DALLAS (Delivering Assisted Living Lifestyles at Scale) programme and the Digital Health Institute.

Support for start-ups and global players

Innovative businesses are well supported in Scotland from the start-up phase through to when they are highly successful global players such as GSK and Ineos.
Our Scottish Investment Bank has invested more than £38 million into life and chemical sciences companies, leveraging more than twice this in private monies. In addition, specialist life science venture capital fund Epidarex has been recently established in Scotland, providing a £50 million in funding for life sciences opportunities.

We aim to do all that we can to quickly translate good ideas into commercial applications.
How we support life sciences in Scotland

How we support chemical sciences in Scotland