Digital health and agritech included as ’emerging subsectors’ of booming life sciences industry in Scotland

Ivan McKee MSP, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, at a recent digital health and care event

Digital health and agritech have been included as a ’emerging subsectors’ of Scotland’s booming £6.5bn life sciences industry.

New Scottish Government report shows employment levels in the life sciences sector have increased by 20% in the last seven years, and the industry is expected to exceed its £8bn target by 2025.

From 2010 to 2017, company turnover increased by 90% and gross value added (GVA) by 48%.  This represents a year-on-year growth of 9.6% for company turnover and 5.7% for GVA.​

The sector employs 41,000 people across more than 770 organisations, including some 670 companies. The number of life science companies in Scotland has increased by 19% during those seven years, representing a year-on-year growth of 2.5% between 2010 and 2017.

Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation Ivan McKee said: “Scotland has a strong life science community which, as these figures show, continues to grow and prosper. 

“The increased GVA is testament to investments made by the Scottish Government and our agencies. The latest announcement of up to £9.5 million to the Precision Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre will also bolster Scotland’s reputation for world-class research and development. It will also strengthen engagement between industry, the education sector and the NHS to improve the health of our population whilst continuing to grow our global impact in life sciences.”

Dave Tudor, Co-Chair Life Sciences Scotland Industry Leadership Group (ILG), said:  “This is fantastic news today and the Life Sciences Scotland Industry Leadership Group welcomes the sector’s strong turnover figures. They confirm the sustained high growth of the life sciences sector since 2010, and if this growth is maintained, we can be confident of exceeding our target for reaching £8 billion by 2025.

“There are several emerging sub-sectors, including digital health and care, and aquaculture, animal health and agritech, which are all contributing to this powerful rate of growth.  We also know there is huge commercial ambition, particularly among the small to medium enterprises, that is a key driver for this accelerated growth rate. 

“Of course, there is much to do to keep Scotland on this growth trajectory, and the ILG remains actively involved in the implementation of the 2025 strategy, creating jobs and wealth for Scotland.”

Linda Hanna, Managing Director at Scottish Enterprise, said: “These figures are fantastic news for Scotland and highlight the vibrancy within the life sciences sector.

“Our focus is on continuing to support the sector’s growth by working with partners and businesses to create quality jobs which give people opportunities to flourish, and which nurtures shared wealth and collective wellbeing.”

Scotland has a strong and proud life sciences heritage with multiple medical breakthroughs originating both within its universities and the private sector. Its biohubs and incubators continue to increase in size and number across the country. These add great value to businesses looking to locate and grow in Scotland, while its scientific talent pool is among the best in the world.

Scotland’s vision for 2025 remains to collaborate, share best practice and better support the sector in its ambitions to grow globally.