Lanarkshire and Dundee in £100M life science project


A Lanarkshire-based life sciences company and Dundee University researchers have won a major Europe-wide drug discovery contract.

In the biggest ever investment of its kind in Scotland from the European Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), industry experts at BioCity Scotland in Newhouse will work with Dundee University scientists on a £100 million international project, researching new drug treatments.

First Minister Alex Salmond welcomed the news – announced during a meeting with the consortium partners at Bute House – as “putting Lanarkshire and Dundee at the heart of international drug discovery”.

Mr Salmond added that being chosen from a field of European competitors reinforced Scotland’s international reputation as “a nation at the forefront of scientific breakthroughs”

The Lanarkshire facility has been named as the Scottish Screening Centre for a team of 30 international partners, all working together to share the chemical compounds that form the building blocks of new medicines. In partnership with the Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance (SULSA), the University of Dundee will place a team of drug discovery scientists at BioCity Scotland to conduct screening and medicinal chemistry activities for the project.

Mr Salmond said:

“BioCity Scotland, SULSA and Dundee University have succeeded in bringing a huge and valuable piece of work to Scotland, against international competition.

“This provides enormous opportunities for Scotland’s life sciences sector and is fantastic recognition of the talent and expertise of Scotland’s life sciences community.

“In particular, this deal shows the combined strength of our universities and commercial experts. Working together, they have been able to secure the biggest ever IMI contract of its kind in Scotland, putting Lanarkshire and Dundee at the forefront of drug discovery in Europe for many years to come.

“This is a very large contract indeed – a total of around £100 million, including investment of  £16.3 million from the European IMI and £3.5 million from the Scottish Funding Council and the Scottish Government. Also included is £75 million in proprietary drug compounds from participating pharmaceutical companies and for use by project partners – all of which will be stored at BioCity Scotland.

“The Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Funding Council have all been working closely together to support the bid to secure this project and we will continue to work with our partners to promote life sciences in Scotland.

“This morning’s announcement reinforces Scotland’s international reputation as a nation at the forefront of scientific breakthroughs and promotes the life sciences sector as central to continued economic growth in Scotland.”

Michel Goldman, Executive Director of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) said:

“The European Lead Factory brings together partners from industry, academia and small companies right across Europe.

“BioCity Scotland’s expertise in managing the storage and logistics of large compound collections mean it will make a vital contribution to this exciting new project that will help to speed up the development of novel medicines for patients.”

Speaking on behalf of the Scottish Screening Centre, BioCity Group CEO Dr Glenn Crocker said:

“For me, the exciting aspect of this project is the opportunity it provides to discover novel drugs through the collaboration of seven large pharma companies and an open call to academics and industry across Europe.

“On top of that there is the potential to build on this platform, extending it into new screening technologies or wider compound collections. We are very pleased it will be based at BioCity Scotland.”

Professor Pete Downes, University of Dundee Principal and Vice-Chancellor, added:

“This investment is an excellent indicator of the world-class capabilities in bioscience and drug discovery in Scotland and the UK.

“Dundee’s early investment in academic drug discovery is beginning to pay off and I am particularly encouraged by the collaborative effort, brokered by the Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance, which has been critical to securing such a significant project.”