08 Apr 2014
Glasgow has a powerful message to send out about the quality of its Life Sciences industry and last week I joined Invest Glasgow in promoting that message to business in London.
Invest Glasgow was set up last year as part of Glasgow City Council to make sure everyone knows how good a place Glasgow is to do business To promote this the team has been rolling out a series of events in London with each one focusing on an industry that has been selected by the Glasgow Economic Leadership to be one of Glasgow's growth industries for the future
The Glasgow BioCorridor stretches from the Glaxo Smith Kline factory in Irvine's i3 Enterprise Zone through to the BioCity complex housing numerous life science businesses in Newhouse. Smack in the middle of the BioCorridor lies the brand new South Glasgow hospital - soon to be the largest accident and emergency hospital in Europe. Whilst it resembles nothing less than an intergalactic space vessel, there is nothing fantastical about what will happen there.
It's going to be a real hub for research and development and business growth. Clinicians, researchers and businesses will physically sit next to each other developing medical and commercial solutions to tackle human illness. So, as an example within the new £20mStratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre (SMS-IC) NHS, academia and industry will be brought together to create a leading centre in specialist Stratified Medicine clinical trials.
That builds on one of the Glasgow BioCorridor's three strengths in the life sciences - stratified medicine, medical technologies and industrial biotechnology.
Stratified medicine (or personalised medicine) is becoming the biggest thing in translational medicine this decade. It will replace the 'one size fits all' blockbuster drug strategy with a more customised treatment plan, depending on access to health information that describes patients' genetic characteristics so that a choice can be made from different treatment strategies.
A combination of excellent NHS health records, the fast declining cost of DNA sequencing, world leading academic expertise and a critical mass of relevant life science companies are all here in the Glasgow BioCorridor and give us a great chance to build an industry.
The Chamber has taken a keen interest in the SMS-IC holding a Glasgow Talks last year with Professor Anna Dominczak, OBE, Head of College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow and Peter Silvester of Thermo Fisher Scientific - who until just recently headed up Life Technologies in Scotland.
Professor Dominiczak is a powerhouse, championing the city's strength in stratified medicine and taking every chance to secure resources to bring that vision - and life-saving potential - to reality. We support her at every step where we can.
The SMS-IC is one excellent example of Glasgow's opportunity in life sciences. But we have at least two more.
In medical technologies (MedTech), Glasgow BioCorridor boasts half of Scotland's medical technology and medical device companies creating tools to help minimise invasive surgery or to help the elderly live independently with professional monitoring.
The city also has strengths in industrial biotechnology - the use of biological substances,systems and processes to produce materials, chemicals and energy - to quote a UK government report (IB2025 - Maximising UK Opportunities from Industrial Biotechnology in a Low Carbon Economy) on the subject. In fact, only this year the new Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre was opened at its host University of Strathclyde, bringing together the skills of 13 HE institutions.
Speaking about the centre, Kevin Moore, OBE, life sciences workstream leader for the Glasgow Economic Leadership , said it 'will build on the renowned strength of Glasgow in the area of manufacturing and engineering and thus we are fully supportive of IBioIC efforts.'
It could be argued Glasgow has been a little quiet about its contribution to the Life Sciences. Not anymore.