Can Irvine Bay play its part in Scotland's new life and chemical sciences strategy?

A new manufacturing strategy for the life sciences and chemical sciences sectors was launched in September, aiming for major growth by 2020. Irvine Bay is ready to play its part, with high quality commercial property, a robust infrastructure, and highly experienced skills base.

Patrick Wiggins

In Scotland, life sciences aims to double its turnover to £6.3bn by 2020, while chemical sciences has a target to increase exports by 50% by 2020. To achieve these ambitious targets, an increase in the amount of manufacturing carried out in Scotland is essential. Currently, world leading research and development activities are happening here, but the new strategy addresses the “commercialisation gap” with some key activities that will involve sites such as i3, Irvine’s Enterprise Area.

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Over the past three years, life and chemical sciences companies in Scotland have already committed almost £1bn of investment towards expanding their manufacturing facilities. In Irvine, Glasxosmithkline has invested around £100 million in their plant since 2012. The company plays an important anchoring role at i3, as they have valuable infrastructure which they are willing to discuss sharing with incoming companies.

Irvine already has an established life sciences community.  In addition to GlaxoSmithKline, life science companies such as Sigma Aldrich, Vogel, DSM and others are located here. The Enterprise Area provides the right environment for this community to grow and develop. A number of sites and properties have facilities and incentives that are well focused for companies in the life and chemical sectors. For example, new build facilities at Annickbank Innovation campus are attracting attention from the life science sector and the Strategic Investment Campus provides the largest flat serviced development site in the north of the UK. High capacity infrastructure is already in place.

As a location for inward investors, Irvine i3 has a competitive advantage, having secured Enterprise Area status from the Scottish Government in 2012. Tax incentives for companies that choose to relocate here. Some of the benefits are specific to life science companies, others are relevant to any relocating business but might be especially relevant to companies with high initial capital outlay for example life and chemical sciences companies, data centres or high value engineering. 

As part of the Glasgow BioCorridor and with nearby teaching hospitals and universities, Irvine is closely connected to the hub of life and chemical sciences development in central Scotland.

Since the Enterprise Area was announced in 2012, 400 new jobs have been created at i3, but this could just be the tip of the iceberg. We are committed to seeing even more significant growth in jobs and inward investment as the project matures. I3, Irvine’s Enterprise area is ideally placed to contribute to the current push to developing manufacturing in the life and chemical sciences sector and increase the opportunities for life and chemical science jobs in Scotland.

Scotland is already home to one of the most sizeable life sciences clusters in Europe, with a significant international presence and huge strengths in research. Our chemical sciences sector has some 200+ core businesses, excluding supply chain, and it punches well above its weight, particularly in global markets.  The new life and chemical sciences strategy treats the two sectors together, promotes manufacturing, encourages commercialisation and supports companies to scale up. The strategy also identifies that many existing manufacturing businesses are re-visiting the UK as a location of choice due to the high quality of our manufacturing base, highly skilled workforce, our health and safety and regulatory regimes and our quality standards.

Scotland already has an enviable reputation as a leader in life and chemical sciences. To realise the potential for our economy and create more jobs, manufacturing is key and this new strategy is an important step forward in coordinating all the different interests to ensure success.