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Increased investment in life sciences
An Innovation Fund which will invest £600,000 over the next three years to help support life sciences development, was to be announced last night (Thursday) by Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon.
As part of a speech at the Annual Scottish Life Sciences Dinner, Ms Sturgeon will reveal the new fund, which will provide up to £200,000 each year over the next three financial years to help build collaborative partnerships with Scottish-based companies.
This will enable joint working between health boards and local small to medium enterprises (SME) in order to drive forward innovative clinical research projects.
Ms Sturgeon will also announce a strategic alliance between NHS Research Scotland (NRS) and Pharmaceutical Product Development, Inc (PPD), which is one of the largest clinical research organisations in the world.
The alliance will increase the amount of research conducted in Scotland, accelerate the development of new medical therapies and enhance health care treatment options for the people of Scotland.
Announcing the exciting new developments, the Health Secretary said:
“These two announcements demonstrate the importance that we place on research within NHSScotland, and will help to further enhance Scotland’s growing reputation as a global centre of excellence for clinical research.
“We are keen to encourage a culture of innovation to drive forward improvements in the care offered by NHS Scotland and the new Innovation Fund will ensure good ideas are taken forward locally.
“The NHS Research Scotland Innovation Fund will be funded by the Chief Scientist Office, and will allow innovations arising from the NHS to be co-developed with support from local Small to Medium Enterprises (SME).
“It will earmark up to £200k per year to Scottish Health Innovations Ltd (SHIL) over the next three years.
“The Alliance with PPD reflects Scotland’s growing reputation as a global centre of excellence for clinical research, offering a significant number of world-leading research sites and clinical investigators with expertise across a wide range of clinical areas. It will undoubtedly bring great health and wealth benefits to Scotland.”
The strategic alliance will see PPD work closely with health boards across Scotland to further reduce research study start-up times, streamline regulatory approval processes, and increase the number of patients recruited for clinical trials.
It will also ensure the availability of resources and training to increase the number of clinicians and support staff conducting research.
The alliance signals international recognition of Scotland as an attractive site for Clinical Research which is a key aim of the NHS Scotland Research strategy “Investing in Research: Improving Health”, published in 2009.
The initiative covers a broad range of Phase I-III trials across multiple therapy areas, as well as biosimilar and post-approval studies.
Roger Newbery, PhD, PPD’s vice president of clinical management for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “Scotland’s intellectual and technical resources, coupled with recent advances in streamlining processes for conducting clinical research, make Scotland an extremely attractive location for clinical research.
“The population’s high participation rate in clinical trials and our new collaboration should enable us to assist our clients in accelerating their important research programs in Scotland.”
Scott Johnstone, Chief Executive of the Scottish Lifesciences Association (SLA), welcomed the Innovation Fund.
He said: “The SLA strongly supports this Scottish Government initiative. The focus on getting the NHS in Scotland working with life sciences SMEs through SHIL is exactly right. Scotland is home to many companies with experience of developing innovative technologies, and we look forward to working in collaboration to ensure the scheme will benefit both patients and companies in Scotland.”
Elaine Gemmell, Senior Manager from SHIL added: "SHIL welcomes the creation of this new fund to support the adoption of NHS innovations through partnerships with industry. This lays the foundation for closer collaborative working with our SME sector for mutual benefit."