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Industry Information

The main Industries currently evolving in Scotland are Aerospace, Automotive, Biotechnology, Call centres, Chemical Industries, Energy, Electronics, Food, Healthcare, Medical Device manufacturing, Semiconductors, Software and Textiles.

Below are brief outlines of the Biotechnology, Healthcare and Medical Device Industries in Scotland.


Scotland is home to a maturing biotechnology cluster that includes research institutions, biotechnology companies and a support network - all operating in the global marketplace. Biotechnology in Scotland stems from the 15th century, when the world's first department of medicine was created at Aberdeen University. Since then, Scots have pioneered many of the significant developments in the history of biotechnology.

Scotland's vibrant biotechnology community is at the forefront of virtually every area of biomedical research including bone disease, cancer, cardiovascular illness, clinical diagnostics, diabetes, drug discovery and development, genomics and gene therapy, immunology, infectious diseases, inflammatory diseases, neurosciences, respiratory diseases and veterinary medicine.

In the past few years there have been many substantial developments in the Scottish Biotechnology Industry:

  • Professor David Lane won the Paul Ehrlich Award for his discovery of the p53 gene
  • Dr Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute developed Dolly the sheep
  • Sir Philip Cohen of the University of Dundee has become one of the most respected cancer specialists in the world.

Scotland is now home to 49 biotechnology companies and there are over 18,000 people working in biotechnology in Scotland, twice as many as two years ago.

There are a number of organisations that assist the network of Scottish biotechnology companies.

BioIndustry Association (Scotland) 

Established in 2002 the BIA acquired the Scottish Bionetwork Association,  formerly known as the Scottish Biomedical Association, and seeks to enhance communication and the development of Biotechnology across Scotland. It is an independent voice representing the biotechnology business sector and it promotes the importance of this growing Scottish industry.

For further information please contact the Association directly:

Website:  Email:

Scottish Enterprise Biotechnology Group (SEBiotech)

The Scottish Enterprise Biotechnology Group was set up to act as a catalyst for the developing biotech sector in Scotland. The group takes part in joint ventures, investment, development of export links and improving industry support.
The aims to:

  • Increase the number of Scotlandís start up companies
  • Aid in the development of growing companies
  • Improve the commercial application of research.
  • The Biotechnology Group works alongside Scottish Trade International and Locate in Scotland to help internationalise the Scottish biotechnology industry through trade missions, exhibitions and seminars. The Group also works closely with the 13 local enterprise companies to ensure business development opportunities throughout the industry are fully utilised.

For further information please contact SEBiotech directly: Website: Email:


Scotland is a world-class location for healthcare companies. It is strong in a wide range of medical disciplines and has a global reputation for the quality of its medical education and training.

There are more than 20 000 people in Scotland employed in healthcare (not including the National Health Service) and thousands more enter this rapidly expanding industry each year. Of these, more than 3 300 people are employed in the manufacture of medical and surgical equipment.

The innovation and support available from Scotland's universities is a great asset to healthcare companies seeking competitive advantage in a rapidly moving marketplace.

Scotland offers pharmaceutical companies the strongest support in Europe. There are six international clinical research companies in Scotland. There are also many excellent opportunities for academic partnerships. The University of Strathclyde, for example, helps discover and register drug-delivery systems and new products, such as Atracurium which was developed by Wellcome. Scotland is home to more than 250 healthcare companies. The country is an acknowledged leader in a wide variety of medical disciplines, including pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, genetics, immunology, virology, cardiology, gerontology, dentistry, surgical techniques, clinical trials, diagnostic kits and medical devices.

Ciba-Geigy, Roche, Glaxo, Zeneca and SmithKline Beecham are among the many world-class companies that have established and expanded their operations in Scotland. They know that Scotland's capabilities are truly world class when it comes to pharmacological studies, pilot-scale manufacturing, clinical trials, process validation, optimisation and pharmacoeconomic evaluation.

For pharmaceutical companies, Scotland has the added advantage of an effective and streamlined regulatory environment. Doctors, hospitals and manufacturers work closely with the United Kingdom regulatory agencies to ensure that products match European Union directives and meet all clinical standards of performance, quality and safety. Once they have been awarded the CE mark, products are approved for sale throughout Europe and Scotland's efficient transport links ensure prompt delivery to profitable markets.

Medical Devices

More and more medical device companies have chosen to locate in Scotland (such as Johnson and Johnson, WL Gore and Associates, ATS Medical, Avecor Cardiovascular, St Jude Medical, Sulzer Vascutek and Haemonetics) joining the 250 healthcare companies that are already profiting from a country that offers the best in people, research and development, regulation, distribution and support. These capabilities provide an unrivalled environment for building productive and profitable businesses.

Scotland has a long tradition of medical excellence and a more recent world-class cluster of high technology companies, known as Silicon Glen.

As part of the European Union, Scotland is within the world's largest single developed marketplace, offering the best possible market opportunities for ambitious companies.

For centuries, Scotland has made important medical breakthroughs. From the world's first medical school in Aberdeen in 1497, to the discovery of penicillin and antiseptic surgery in the 19th century, Scotland has gone on to discover or invent chloroform, insulin, interferon, ultrasonic scanning, CT and MRI technologies.

Today, Scottish based companies are at the forefront of developments in immunology, biotechnology, cardiology, gerontology and advanced medical device manufacture including cryogenic and microfiltration systems, diagnostic kits, heart valves, next generation lasers, sensors and sutures.

Four of the world's top medical schools are in Scotland, giving companies access to a vast pool of qualified recruits or research partnerships. Scotland also has high technology science and business parks, with readily available centralised laboratories and facilities.

The relationship of Scotland's medical industry to universities and research institutes is unique and ensures the best of collaborative effort in its product development, clinical trials and testing. Eight of Scotland's 13 universities have campus science parks for companies actively engaged in research and development.

In many countries, regulatory approval can hold a product back for years before it gets to trial, let alone goes on sale. In Scotland, however, trial is part of the approval process, and doctors, hospitals, manufacturers and legislators work together to bring promising devices to be marketed sooner.

MediPark, in west central Scotland, is dedicated to companies producing medical technology, equipment and supplies. It has a state of the art manufacturing facility, ethylene oxide and steam sterilisation, laboratory and microbiology services and clean rooms. Its clinical and regulatory services include device registration, reimbursement negotiation, investigator selection, regulatory submission, trial design and study management.

Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, on the east coast, also has a purpose-built sterilisation facility with class L clean rooms, microprocessor-controlled tunnel washers and ultrasonic washing machines, computer-controlled porous-load autoclave sterilisation and ethylene oxide sterilisation.

Silicon Glen, Scotland's cluster of high technology companies, provides manufacturers of medical devices with an unparalleled source of useful innovations.

Overall, Scotland offers medical device companies the ideal location for researching, developing, manufacturing and winning approval for innovative and profitable products.

Scottish exports of medical and surgical equipment was worth almost £34 million in 1997-98.

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