BioCity Scotland Secures Former MSD Research Plant

A new joint partnership between BioCity Nottingham and Scotland’s Roslin BioCentre, known as BioCity Scotland, announced yesterday has given Scotland’s life sciences sector a major boost, taking away some of the disappointment of MSD’s decision to close down their pharmaceutical research facility at Newhouse, Scotland.

Under the proposal of the joint partnership, the facility at Newhouse will be developed into a dedicated base in central Scotland for growing bioscience, pharmaceutical, med tech and healthcare companies.

News of the agreement adds additional weight to Scotland’s claim to being a major centre for life sciences, and at the forefront of drug discovery and commercialisation.  The 2010 Scottish Life Sciences Strategy aims to create a strong environment in which to build a critical group of growing world-class firms led by highly-skilled scientists.

State-Of-The-Art Equipment

BioCity Scotland stated that the “gifting” of the MSD facility in Lanarkshire opened up more than 130,000 square feet of purpose-built laboratories on a 23-acre site that could support “pre-clinical drug discovery and development by a range of independent, ambitious companies”. In addition the plan is to include administrative and conference facilities to provide support and networking capabilities for the client companies.

According to BioCity Scotland, the “rejuvenated site” will complement existing supplies for the life science industry in Scotland by catering for “start-up and growing companies wanting a central base on the M8 just 15 miles from Glasgow and 33 miles from Edinburgh city centres”.

BioCity Scotland is also offering a “wide range of state-of-the-art equipment”, available to rent “at very competitive rates”.

The Newhouse initiative “is much more than a property proposition – it will be a unique, vibrant community of scientific companies”, assured BioCity Scotland chairman, Louis Nisbet, as the deal with MSD was unveiled.

The resources include high-throughput screening, nuclear magnetic resonance machines, mass spectrometers, high-performance liquid chromatography, electrophysiology and cell culture suites, centrifuges and freezers. Also part of the package are a “world leading” compound management system and a library of 100,000 compounds.

 “Fantastic” Outcome

MSD’s statement in July 2010 that operations at Newhouse would be phased out along with seven other research facilities worldwide, as part of a restructuring programme following Merck & Co’s merger with Schering-Plough, fired up politicians both locally and at Scottish government level, prompting discussions between MSD, Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International.

Chris Hill, MSD’s vice president and the former head of the Newhouse facility, described the result as “fantastic” for the life sciences community in Scotland and the broader UK.

“We are delighted to have secured such an accomplished investor and a viable and exciting future for the site in such a short period of time,” Hill commented.

“The ongoing commercial operation of the site will attract investment to the local area, generating employment opportunities for local communities, and the success of this development will play a significant role in securing the future of Life Sciences in Scotland” he added.

Perfect Commercial Partnership

According to the 2011 UK Life Science Start-up report authored by BioCity Nottingham, almost 50% of all life science start-ups are located in a UK bioincubator or biopark.

Dr Glenn Crocker, chief executive officer of BioCity Nottingham, commented the plan was to create “the UK’s largest bioscience business incubator at BioCity Scotland, a resource available to national and international companies”.

BioCity Nottingham’s success in nurturing and growing more than 70 new companies since 2003, coupled with Roslin BioCentre’s expertise in life sciences innovation and facilities management, make “this team the perfect commercial partnership”, Nisbet added.


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