Firms at BioCity Scotland will work with research scientists at Dundee University to research new drug treatments
A consortium of Scottish-based life sciences firms and research scientists has secured a contract worth £100 million to develop new medicines.
The companies, based at BioCity Scotland in Lanarkshire, will work with research scientists at Dundee University to research new drug treatments under the scheme created by the European Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).
The IMI is a public-private initiative designed to speed up the development of medicines.
The announcement, the largest investment in Scotland to date linked to IMI, was made by First Minister Alex Salmond today.
Scottish firms saw off international competition to secure the contract.
Salmond said the deal reinforced Scotland's reputation as “a nation at the forefront of scientific breakthroughs”.
"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,” he said.
"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."
BioCity is a large bioscience incubator providing facilities, finance and expertise to new science-based companies.
The site at Newhouse in Lanarkshire has space for 30 companies and the IMI contract will bring together their work to share the chemical compounds that form the building blocks of new medicines.
BioCity chief executive 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 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."
A team of scientists at the University of Dundee will be based at BioCity to test newly designed drug treatments.
Professor Pete Downes, University of Dundee principal, said: “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.”