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Scotland's life sciences facts

Life sciences students, Glasgow University

Life sciences industry in Scotland

Latest stats and facts on Scotland's life sciences industry. Published February 2020.

Industry profile

One of the largest life sciences clusters in Europe, Scotland is home to a range of multinationals and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with a strong track record of creating and growing start-ups.

Outside of the "Golden triangle" (East, South East and London), Scotland
generated more start-ups than any other region in the UK between 2012 and 2016.

A thriving entrepreneurial culture in our universities places Scotland as the 2nd most successful region in the UK for creating spin-outs.

Scientists Sarah Farr and Samantha Moreton from the EPP Development Team

Scottish life sciences stats

771 organisations

675 companies and 96 educational/research institutions (2016)

39,900 employment

1.5% of Scotland's total employment (2016)

£2.4bn GVA

1.8% of Scotland's GVA (2016)

£1.3bn exports

3.9% of Scotland's total international exports (2017)

£293m R&D

23.5% of Scotland's BERD (2017)

3D bioprinting of stem cells developed by Dr Will Shu of Heriot-Watt University's School of Engineering and Physical Sciences

Supply chain

Scotland has comprehensive supply chains and world-class manufacturing expertise, supplying chemical and healthcare equipment, pharmaceutical services, medicines, vaccines and diagnostics to the world.

Company insight

Life sciences organisations surveyed between July and December 2019
Performance last 6 months
  • 58% reported increased turnover
  • 50% reported improved profitability
Expectations next 6 months
  • 55% expect to grow exports
  • 64% expect to add staff
Scientists at work at Aquila Biomedical, BioQuarter Edinburgh.

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