£40 million project to make region centre for life sciences research commercialisation and growth
Thursday, March 17, 2022
The transformational BioHub project to accelerate the growth of pioneering life sciences companies in Aberdeen has received a £2 million funding boost from Scottish Enterprise.
Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy, Kate Forbes MSP, today toured the construction site of the new-build BioHub in Aberdeen as the additional funding was confirmed.
BioHub is a £40 million investment to double the size of north east Scotland’s high-value life sciences sector. It will be home to spinout, start-up and scaling businesses bringing new drugs, treatments, therapies and technology to market and creating high-skill jobs in the fast-growing industry sector.
Opportunity North East (ONE) is the lead partner and a co-funder of BioHub, which has secured £20 million of capital funding jointly provided by the Scottish Government and UK Government via the Aberdeen City Region Deal. ONE has committed up to £5.6 million to BioHub, and NHS Grampian and the University of Aberdeen are strategic partners in the project.
The £2 million of new Scottish Enterprise funding will support the final fit-out of the building and the incubator space in BioHub for spinout and start-up businesses.
The iconic BioHub building will open in late autumn and provide a combination of specialist space and support for the sector. It will house up to 400 scientific entrepreneurs and 40 tenant businesses at total capacity.
BioHub is a flagship addition to the city’s Foresterhill Health Campus, one of Europe’s largest integrated clinical, research and teaching sites for life sciences and medicine and will catalyse further collaborative innovation across the academic, commercial, and healthcare community.
During her visit, Ms Forbes met life sciences leaders from Aberdeen companies NovaBiotics, Elasmogen and TauRx, who have championed the development of BioHub as a focal point for life sciences business creation and growth, at a roundtable hosted by ONE.
The life sciences sector is a thriving part of Scotland’s economy, with a turnover of £6.6 billion, employing 40,000 people across over 750 organisations and on target to achieve £8 billion turnover by 2025.
Economy Secretary Kate Forbes said: “This additional £2 million investment in BioHub aligns closely with the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation, highlighting the importance of strong regional economic partnerships, skills and retraining and focused support for new markets.
“The BioHub will support ambitious life sciences businesses to grow, including through the creation of highly skilled jobs in Aberdeen, the North East and more widely. Through the Aberdeen City Region Deal the Scottish Government is contributing £125 million to the area over ten years.
“We want to enable everyone to contribute to, and benefit from, a more prosperous, more productive and more internationally competitive economy.”
Neil Francis, Scottish Enterprise Managing Director of International, said: "As Aberdeen transitions to the growth sectors of the future, we are hugely excited to announce this funding and become a key partner in the BioHub. Life sciences as an industry is crucial to the future success of Scotland’s economy and Scottish Enterprise recognises the importance of helping put Scotland at the forefront of the sector.
“Our funding will support the fit-out of the building and incubator space for spinout and start-up businesses – one of our real passions as an organisation – and I can’t wait to see how those businesses grow, innovate and drive our economy in the years to come.”
Chair of ONE Life Sciences and BioAberdeen and Chief Executive of NovaBiotics, Dr Deborah O’Neil, said: “Aberdeen has world-class research and innovation strengths in life sciences – across our companies, universities and NHS – and a track record of producing exciting new businesses. The ongoing investment in BioHub will help accelerate commercialisation and business growth to bring new therapies, treatments, and technology to market.
“I’m grateful to Scottish Enterprise for its funding and to the Cabinet Secretary for visiting Aberdeen today. Their continuing commitment to this transformational project will provide early-stage and established businesses with specialist facilities and support to grow and stay in the region.”
Jennifer Craw, Chief Executive of ONE, said: “The continuing investment in BioHub demonstrates the effectiveness of having a long-term economic vision and strategy, backed by public and private funding targeting transformational projects in our key growth sectors. BioHub will support growing businesses and high-value jobs, and accelerate innovation to market that impacts health and wellbeing. These benefits will be felt regionally and nationally and underline this region’s ability to provide significant economic returns on investment. The new Scottish Enterprise funding, which we welcome, further recognises the region’s potential and track record of delivery.”
Dr Caroline Barelle, founder and CEO of Elasmogen, said: “Elasmogen is at an incredibly exciting point in the company’s evolution. Having demonstrated the power of our soloMER technology we are now progressing towards Series A funding to take our therapeutics into the clinic. For us there simply could not be a better time for investment into the life sciences sector in the north east. Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have been home to exceptionally innovative biotechs, which has created a fertile environment for entrepreneurship and new company creation. The construction of the BioHub will provide a focal point, a heart, to concentrate our excellence in life sciences, to build critical mass within a vibrant innovative environment, to foster sharing of expertise and ideas, to support existing companies and to create new enterprises.”
Dr Glenn Corr, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Business Officer for TauRx, said: “The Biohub will help to create a critical mass of life sciences companies in the north east. This will enable the sector to leverage its current recognised expertise in research and grow its ability to develop and commercialise therapeutics. At TauRx, we already benefit greatly from close collaborations with the University of Aberdeen and Scottish Biologics Facility, and the Biohub will support the formation of future mutually beneficial relationships throughout the life sciences sector in years to come. We look forward to contributing to what will hopefully be an ever-increasing value chain of industry and economic benefit to the area.”
Professor George Boyne, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, said: “We’re delighted to see this investment in the Aberdeen BioHub which will play such an important role in further enhancing the region’s standing as a leading life sciences centre and contributing to the wider post-pandemic recovery.
“The University of Aberdeen is delighted to be a delivery partner in this project and to bring to the table our research expertise in entrepreneurship, start-ups, consultancy and commercialisation.”
The additional funding was welcomed by Aberdeenshire Council and Aberdeen City Council, the public sector partners in the Aberdeen City Region Deal, and BioHub project partner NHS Grampian.