UK Life Sciences Industry Looking Robust

The life sciences industry in the UK is looking strong at the moment, with a new report analysing emerging businesses in the sector around the country showing that we are currently seeing an unprecedented period of growth, thanks in part to changes in the funding landscape.

The BioCity UK Life Science Start-Up Report, which has collected, analysed and interpreted data for more than ten years, looks at the prevalence of startups in the country over the last five years, as well as the broader landscape to assess the quality of these new ventures.

A four-fold increase of investment in early-stage businesses was seen, reaching £2.8 billion, compared to the previous five-year period. There are numerous reasons for this expansion, but the biggest driver was the launch of several significant venture funds able to make large investments in early-stage start-ups.

Another contributing factor was the increasing use of academia and smaller firms by pharmaceuticals as sources of innovation, with the aim being to stop the fall in research and development productivity.

Author of the report and chairman of BioCity Dr Glenn Crocker said: “Both the number of companies starting up and the amount invested in them has taken off. We have seen a 50 per cent increase in the number of companies and a four-fold increase in investment going into them; this will likely result in a substantial increase in the demand for space.

“We estimate that this cohort of businesses alone could require 1.4 million sq/ft of specialist facilities over the next five years. One consequence of this demand growth is that real estate investors are being increasingly attracted to the sector.”

Scotland in particular appears to be faring well, with the report showing that the number of life science startups in the country is the highest ever recorded.

Edinburgh and Greater Glasgow were found to be among the fastest growing locations, although out seems that clusters are being established – some 84 per cent of startups in Scotland are found in just three city regions… Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Greater Glasgow.

Elsewhere, London, the south-east, the east and the north-west of England were found to be the most active areas for life sciences start-ups. Scotland was also found to be the leading centre in the UK for industrial, biotech, environmental, clean and agricultural biotech start-up areas.

Commenting, Dr Crocker went on to say that Scotland is now strengthening its position where arboriculture and fisheries are concerned.

However, venture capital funding for Scotland-based companies is still a challenge, with start-ups in the country receiving three per cent of the total investment made into start-ups in the UK in this particular sector.

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