Life sciences concern the health and wellbeing of living things. Sometimes called health science, the topic covers a range of disciplines, from biology and medicine to ecology. It's an increasingly important economic sector for Scotland, worth more than £1bn a year. It accounts for thousands of jobs in universities, private laboratories and other businesses.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise has identified four key streams of activity which are part of its strategy - natural products, remote healthcare, welfare and preventative and medicine
Scotland is home to around 600 bioscience companies employing approximately 30,500 people. The industry contributes approximately £2.8bn to the Scottish economy and is creating GVA growth across the sector of 7-8% per annum. Of the 26 comparator nations which undertake 95% of the research undertaken in the world, Scotland outperforms in research outputs by 2.5 times.
Estimated economic growth rates for digital health are 70%.
There are a number of strands of life sciences activity emerging in Moray. The area has a growing reputation in developing digital and online technologies to improve service delivery and efficiency. Although these strands have emerged independently, they are complementary and have arisen because of the unique health ecosystem found in Moray.
The Alexander Graham Bell Centre for Digital Health is designed to support the ground breaking work being carried out in digital healthcare in the Moray region. The £6.5 million project has created a “centre of excellence” located on the Moray College UHI Campus in Elgin. This collaborative hub will provide opportunities and facilities for new business and research, creating important and strong links between the private sector, medical practitioners and academia.
The Enterprise Park Forres has been awarded Enterprise Area Status for Life Sciences by the Scottish Government, covering 25 acres of the 100 acre park. Enterprise area designation brings additional incentives and support to life science investors locating at EPF.
An important emerging aspect of the Moray proposition is the opportunity for Technology Strategy Board funding as the Scottish location under the £23 million Delivering Assisted Living Lifestyles at Scale programme. This may allow Moray to link private sector involvement in the programme alongside existing infrastructure.
The DALLAS programme may be particularly important because it promises to allow Moray to link funding to private sector involvement and may allow a competition to ensure that private sector benefits are maximised.
Moray offers unique expertise. Dr. Gray's Hospital in Elgin is well resourced and Moray is already a testing ground for digital health research. Strong electronic healthcare record systems have been developed and partnerships exist to develop a unique healthcare strategy which has a high regard for patient care resources. Moray's demographic offers a microcosm of the likely wider UK population in the future. Health experts and existing partnerships have already developed a strong provision to develop, pilot and test comprehensive digital healthcare models.