A bespoke support programme to catalyse growth in Aberdeen’s world-class life sciences cluster has been launched.
Led and funded by private sector economic development body Opportunity North East, the ONE Life Sciences Accelerator Programme is being delivered in partnership with BioCity, the UK’s leading incubator and accelerator of life sciences and healthcare businesses.
The Accelerator Programme will support the development of start-ups, spin-outs and growth companies across the region’s research, clinical and commercial base. It launched this week with a boot camp for 14 participants with life sciences, healthcare, medtech and wellness related business ideas, and will be followed by a 12-week DEVELOP programme, starting in January 2018.
Participation in the programme will enable North East based individuals and companies to tap into BioCity’s network of existing businesses and life science and healthcare experts.
The boot camp is an intense two-and-a-half-day programme for participants to explore their own start-up business idea or to stress test their current company product, services, and business model. It is suited equally to those who have a spark of an idea they wish to evaluate, through to fully formed companies. The boot camp aims to help participants develop their product or service concepts and provides a taste of the more intensive 12-week DEVELOP programme that will start in January 2018. It will identify gaps in business cases and evaluate areas of risk, help to create a business model that can stand-up to investor scrutiny and steer businesses in the right direction; reducing risk, time and cost.
Professor Stephen Logan, chair of ONE’s Life Sciences Board, said: “The strengths of the region’s life sciences cluster include biologics, medtech and nutrition, and the combination of academic, clinical and commercial expertise at Foresterhill creates a unique environment in which to build high-value, high-growth companies. The launch of the ONE Life Sciences Accelerator Programme is the start of concerted investment by ONE to build the cluster as part of wider growth and diversification activity for the region’s key industries. The interest that the Programme is attracting from across the academic and student, clinical and commercial communities is enormously encouraging and underlines the need for this investment to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem for life sciences.”
Toby Reid, managing director of BioCity, said: “There is enormous potential for the region within the areas of life sciences, healthcare, medtech and wellness and we are delighted to be a part of this exciting programme, working alongside Opportunity North East. We know that the clustering model is immensely powerful and can build thriving business communities. The first step in the process is to discover some of the hidden gems that are either in the start-up or research phase and would benefit from expert guidance and strategic thinking. That is the purpose of this first Boot Camp.”
The life sciences sector is an important part of North East Scotland’s economy with more than 2,500 people employed within its companies, clinical and research base making an annual contribution of £160m GVA. The region accounts for more than one fifth of employment in Scottish life sciences research and development and Aberdeen has one of the highest concentrations of life scientists in the UK. The city’s Foresterhill health campus is Europe’s largest integrated medical, research and teaching location and provides an outstanding collaborative environment for clinical, commercial and academic researchers.
In life sciences, ONE works closely with the University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University, NHS Grampian and other stakeholders, including Scottish Enterprise. ONE’s priorities are to build on the region’s life sciences asset base; accelerate company growth across spin-outs, start-ups and established companies; create an entrepreneurial cluster environment to drive innovation and commercialisation; and attract investment. ONE’s goals are aligned with both the Scottish and UK industry strategies, including the recently published UK Life Sciences Industrial Strategy that supports specialist cluster development and close working between clinicians, researchers and commercial interests to produce patient-focused outcomes.