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Scotland's life sciences sector to double economic contribution by 2020

30 April 2014

  • SDS press release

New skills investment plan announced to support sector to achieve growth potential.

A plan aimed at supporting ambitions for Scotland's life sciences to contribute £6.2bn turnover and £3bn GVA over the next five years is published today.

Launched by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) at BioCity Scotland in Lanarkshire, the plan recognises that skills play an integral and vital role to help the sector achieve strategic objectives and growth potential.

Scotland already has a world-class reputation in stratified medicine and boasts the cutting-edge Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre in Glasgow, while a stem cell industry cluster continues to develop around the Edinburgh-based Centre for Regenerative Medicine. In addition, a new innovation centre for industrial biotechnology is forecast to increase related turnover by £3 billion over the next 15 years and could create up to 1,500 jobs before 2020.

The plan highlights four key themes, aimed at raising awareness of career opportunities and attracting more talent. They include:

  • developing graduate laboratory and soft skills, and increasing placement opportunities
  • increasing industry and school engagement, through STEM ambassador teacher events, as well as introducing career events and practical workshops to attract new talent into the sector
  • expanding the talent pool and positioning Scotland as a top choice career destination
  • examining demand and mapping provision

Chris Brodie, Lead Head of Key Sector Development at SDS said:

"The SIP provides a cornerstone for building skills within the life sciences sector, with industry and stakeholders working together. The sector offers enormous growth potential for the Scottish economy and we need to ensure continued investment in a highly skilled workforce to support the sector.

Working with industry and partners, we have developed an exciting action plan that includes embedding lab skills into the curriculum of life sciences courses, a CV competition and a series of STEMnet events, which have already reached out to more than 1,500 school pupils."

Dr Brian Bathgate, Chair of Life Sciences Advisory Board (LiSAB) Skills Group said:

"The Skills Investment Plan sets out a vision for Scotland to be viewed as a world-class location for ambitious life sciences employers to be able to develop, invest and grow by having access to a talent pool with exceptional skills.

"To achieve this ambition we have worked with the industry to identify the key actions which need to be undertaken to support the growth ambition of the life sciences sector."

Fraser Black, Managing Director at BioCity Scotland added:

"The SIP is a major step forward to help the life sciences sector in Scotland to achieve future growth ambitions. Scotland routinely punches above its weight when it comes to the creation of innovative life science companies that both thrive and depend on the availability of the best talent to realise their growth aspirations. With ever-increasing global growth, the sector offers exciting and rewarding career prospects.

"BioCity Scotland is working with the sector to provide a lab skills programme to equip graduates with the practical skills required by industry. We will also be providing support for a ProScience event, bring together industry, higher education, further education and school pupils in practical workshop."

The wider sector in Scotland currently employs approximately 35,000 people across 650 organisations (ranging from higher education institutions to companies). It encompasses a wide range of activities from the discovery, discovery and manufacture of therapeutics, the design and manufacture of medical and surgical equipment, diagnostics and devices, through to clinical research and health informatics.

The SIP is available to download on Our Skillsforce on:

Employers can also contact the SDS Employer Helpline on: 0800 783 6000.

Fiona Riddell, SDS Corporate Communications
Telephone: 0300 013 4392 ~ Mobile: 07887 635389