Writing in The Sunday Times on 8 March 2020, Prof Stephen Logan, chair of the ONE Life Sciences sector board, set out the industry’s growth ambition in north east Scotland.
The life sciences sector in north east Scotland has a clear vision for its future. Aberdeen will be a global location for innovation, collaboration and commercialisation. Our companies will develop drugs, diagnostics, therapies and tech to combat disease and build a robust health economy.
Opportunity North East (ONE) is leading action and investment to achieve this vision, working with the region’s life sciences community and strategic partners in the University of Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University, NHS, Scottish Government and UK Government.
Aberdeen is already a centre for life sciences with proven strengths in biologics, digital health and imaging, and a successful track record of commercialisation. There are 2,500 people employed across companies, our two universities and research institutes. The ambition is to double the size and value of the sector in the next decade.
Central to this ambition is Aberdeen’s Foresterhill Health Campus. A co-located campus for academics and researchers in the University of Aberdeen’s medical school, the Rowett Institute and Institute of Medical Sciences; clinicians in the NHS; and life sciences companies with more than £250 million of research funding secured in the past five years. This strategic site is the nucleus of the entrepreneurial ecosystem that will accelerate the pace of collaborative innovation. It is where researchers will develop life-changing high-value therapies to combat 21st-century health challenges including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, antimicrobial resistance, cancer and obesity.
The transformational project for the sector is BioHub – the incubation accelerator for the life sciences companies. BioHub is where people with ideas can take their first steps towards commercialisation, supported by experts. A place where the academic, clinical, commercial and research communities can collaborate and innovate. Where spinouts and start-ups will locate and grow in incubation space. And where established high-growth businesses develop in their custom laboratory and office accommodation.
The UK Government and Scottish Government are investing in BioHub with £20 million of capital funding through the Aberdeen City Region Deal, a partnership between Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council and ONE. ONE is providing £3.6 million to operate the hub and deliver bespoke business support.
The ONE Life Sciences sector board developed the BioHub project with the University of Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University, NHS Grampian and Scottish Enterprise. The ONE team is now leading its delivery. Planning is approved, and construction will begin on Foresterhill Health Campus in late spring 2020.
BioHub will put Aberdeen’s life sciences sector on the map, support the growth of new and established companies, and help to attract talent, partners and investment.
Academics, clinicians, companies and researchers in the region are in a strong position to develop new solutions – from drugs and technology to tech and health data – that will transform healthcare in the decades ahead. Commercialising their innovation will produce better outcomes for patients, transform how healthcare professionals work and improve the nation’s health and wealth.
The life sciences community is pulling together to achieve this ambition. ONE is creating the environment and providing access to the right facilities and expertise to make it happen.
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