Sector Insights

February Focus: Sciences and Life Sciences

With preparations underway for this year’s Scottish Life Sciences Internship Programme, and innovative collaborations in the Highlands and Islands making the shortlist in Scotland’s upcoming Life Sciences Awards, this month we’re turning our focus to the sector of science, and the government’s strategy behind growing it.

Published: 12/02/2018

Life sciences is big business, injecting £2 billion into Scotland's economy every year and Life Sciences Scotland, the sector’s leadership group, has ambitious plans to increase the life sciences’ industry contribution to the Scottish economy to £8 billion by 2025.

The latest sector figures* show that almost 40,000 people are employed in life sciences across over 700 organisations and these strong employment figures make it an attractive industry to cultivate and grow.

The Scottish Government is championing life sciences as it has identified it as a sector in which Scotland has a distinct comparative advantage. One of the four pillars of the Economic Strategy published in 2015 included fostering a culture of innovation as it ensures resilience to changing economic conditions and the capacity to compete on an international stage.

The Scottish Funding Council is supporting a network of eight Innovation Centres in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise covering Stratified Medicine, Sensors and Imaging Systems, Digital Health, Industrial Biotechnology, Oil and Gas, Big Data, Construction, and Aquaculture.

Life Sciences

As a country we have a strong foundation to build on – with a rich heritage of research and breakthroughs in science – for example the discovery of penicillin in 1928 by Scot Alexander Fleming. Our universities are amongst the best in the world with five universities in the world’s top 200 and world-class research is being carried out at Scottish universities every year acting as a catalyst for innovation.

Jobs within sciences and life sciences are wide ranging: from researchers and healthcare professionals to business roles and investors. The sector also includes specialisms such as medical technologies, biotechnology, digital health, marine science, engineering, plant sciences and animal health, among many others. So it’s the perfect time to think about how to get started working in this sector which is ever-changing thanks to the pace of innovation.

Scotland is fast becoming something of a home for sciences and life sciences. In the north of Scotland, ScotGrad partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise has invested significantly in the development of state-of-the-art infrastructure, advanced research and development, and business support such as the Pathfinder Accelerator programme. Global companies in the region such as LifeScan and BASF offer specialist graduate programmes, and the European Marine Science Park on Scotland’s West Coast is an established location for Marine Science, with a growing cluster of businesses setting up in the heart of Oban, an expanding marine tourism hub.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in this sector placements are advertised throughout the year on the ScotGrad website. For more information about how graduates have supported business growth across Scotland take a look at our success stories. Never miss an update by registering with us.

*Referenced in Life Sciences Strategy for Scotland 2025 Vision on page 8 citing a Scottish Enterprise database 2014 supplied to Scottish Government.