Aberdeen targets leading role in fast-changing healthcare environment

Major changes in how we research, diagnose, and treat disease and illness are creating new challenges and opportunities that north east Scotland’s life sciences sector can lead in tackling.

The use of real-time health and genetic data in clinical settings, medtech advances, precision medicine tailored to each patient, how and when care is delivered, patient knowledge and expectations, and an aging population are important factors driving rapid change in medical science and healthcare.

North east Scotland’s academics, clinicians, companies and researchers are in a strong position to respond to these changes and develop new solutions – from new drugs and technology to the use of health data to inform decision making – that will transform healthcare in the decades ahead, producing better outcomes for patients and transforming how healthcare professionals work.

This evolving environment and the response of researchers and clinicians was highlighted by Professor Siladitya Bhattacharya, Head of the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition at the University of Aberdeen, at a meeting of the ONE Life Sciences Network in Aberdeen today (Tuesday 4 February 2020).

North east Scotland has sector strengths including biologics, health data and imaging and a track record of commercialisation in these high-value areas through its company base.

Growing the sector is a regional and national economic priority with a goal of doubling the number of companies in and around Aberdeen this decade. Major investment has been secured to deliver the £40 million BioHub project on the city’s Foresterhill Health Campus. The delivery of the innovation hub, led and co-funded by Opportunity North East (ONE), will provide incubator space for new companies, bespoke accommodation for growing established businesses, and business growth support in a collaborative environment.

Prof Bhattacharya, University of Aberdeen

Prof Bhattacharya said: “Research and innovation carried out in Aberdeen – from the development of the MRI scanner to health data and economics – has changed the way we work in healthcare in the UK and internationally, impacting the lives of millions of people for the better. The exciting opportunity now, at a time of unprecedented change in medical science and healthcare, is for our academics, researchers, clinicians and companies, to be at the forefront of drug development, advances in technology and the use of health data to diagnose and treat patients in new ways and to improve the health and well-being of the nation. We are pulling together as a community to do this and the commercialisation of our innovation to get it to market will bring significant health and economic benefits.”

Prof Logan, ONE Life Sciences

Prof Stephen Logan, Chair of the ONE Life Sciences sector board, said: “This region recognises, celebrates and invests in the achievements and potential of its life sciences sector. Across the University of Aberdeen, NHS Grampian, Robert Gordon University and our companies there are people and teams with ideas and research that can transform healthcare. At ONE, our goal is to create the environment and provide access to the right facilities and expertise to commercialise innovation. The £40 million BioHub project that we are leading at Foresterhill – one of Europe’s largest co-located clinical, research and teaching sites – will be transformational for the sector. It will drive collaborative innovation; anchor new and established businesses here; and make Aberdeen one of the most exciting life sciences locations in the UK, helping to attract talent, partners and investment for the sector.”

The BioHub is a £40 million investment project to support the life sciences sector to collaborate, innovate and commercialise the next generation of therapies and healthcare solutions. It has secured £20m of capital funding from the UK Government and Scottish Government through the Aberdeen City Region Deal (CRD), a partnership between Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council and Opportunity North East (ONE). ONE has committed an additional £3.6m of its own funding over seven years to operate the hub and deliver bespoke support activity . The project has been developed by the ONE Life Sciences sector board, University of Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University, NHS Grampian and Scottish Enterprise and the ONE team is leading its delivery.

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