The Next Generation: Scottish R&D in Life Sciences

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BioPharm International, BioPharm International-12-02-2006, Volume 2006, Issue 7

R&D spending in Scotland is forecasted to increase dramatically over the next few years.

Over the last several years, there has been a greater impetus to bringing drugs and various treatments to market more rapidly, while reducing costs. Outsourcing clinical research has offered biopharmaceutical companies an opportunity to select a variety of regions with extensive clinical expertise and more favorable regulatory environments to conduct safe, economical, and efficient clinical trials. Scotland has been a prime choice for such companies deciding where to outsource clinical research, with three of the top seven clinical research organizations (CRO) located there, along with many others that meet specific needs of today's biopharmaceutical industry.

Scotland has a well established research and development base, with more medical research being conducted per capita there than anywhere else in Europe. Moreover, 20% of all the money spent on clinical research in the UK is spent in Scotland. The country's talent pool and substantial number of life sciences graduates has drawn international acclaim to its clinical and biomedical expertise. CROs employ more than 2,000 people in Edinburgh alone.

In addition, Scotland has a reputable network of more than 40 pharmaceutical clinical trials and contract research organizations. CROs such as Quintiles (, Aptuit (, Charles River Laboratories (, and PPD Development ( are located there and offer an attractive setting for conducting clinical research. Other specialist CROs include Nexxus BioMed (, Biopta (, and Invitrogen (, which has recently made Scotland its European base. Key innovators such as these companies and others contribute to the country's strong clinical pipeline. With approximately 19 drugs in clinical development at this time, the pipeline continues to grow as nearly 75% of those projects are in Phase 2 or beyond.


Aside from Scotland's research facilities, the country also has a unique patient base within which clinical trials can be conducted. Researchers looking to carry out epidemiology studies for specific diseases can form collaborations with the National Health Service (NHS) of Scotland, which provides each patient with a unique identifier. Scotland's patient population, in turn, is supportive of trials, thus giving researchers an easily accessible participation pool needed to carry out clinical trials.

Unprecedented research is also being conducted nearby at local universities, such as the University of Dundee (, where researchers are producing native recombinant human drug-metabolizing enzymes in bacteria. Nearby, the University of Glasgow, along with the NHS of Greater Glasgow (, last year created the Glasgow Biomedicine project, an initiative designed to boost research and facilitate clinical trials for diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, infectious diseases, and neurological disorders.

Company Spotlight: Organon Research Scotland

Overall, R&D spending in Scotland is forecasted to increase dramatically over the next few years. Scotland offers unique capabilities to biopharmaceutical companies looking to outsource their R&D and accelerate the rate at which their products reach market.

With lower labor costs compared to other locations in Europe and the United States, Scotland is an economically advantageous choice on the road to less expensive patents. The country also enjoys a supportive environment from the government, the NHS, academia, and anchored industry leaders. As international partnerships continue to propel clinical research forward, Scotland offers the ideal location to develop the next generation of advances in the life sciences and medical industries.

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