First Minister Alex Salmond and Deputy First Minister and Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon have put their weight behind a consortium bid that would see €20m invested in pharmaceutical research in Scotland.
In a letter that was sent as part of the formal application to the Innovative Medicines Initiative – a joint undertaking between the European Union and the pharmaceutical industry association EFPIA – the First Minister and Deputy First Minister expressed their “strong support” for the joint Dutch, Scottish and English consortium bid and highlighted Scotland’s “renowned” reputation as a “nation of innovators”.
As part of the ELEGENCE (European Lead GENeration Centre) project consortium, Newhouse-based BioCity Scotland, is bidding to become one of the joint sites for the new European Screening Centre. The bid would also see another €20m invested in developing a joint facility in the Netherlands.
Pharmaceutical services and regenerative, clinical and stratified medicine are “key strengths” in Scotland’s company and research base, Salmond and Sturgeon wrote.
“The ELEGENCE proposal outlines the strengths of Scotland in this area, such as our strong company base in pharmaceutical services which encompass a range of areas offering contract research in manufacture, pre-clinical, clinical and biosafety testing.
We believe that the facilities at the BioCity site would provide an excellent foundation for the European Screening Centre. The BioCity building offers state of the art facilities including a compound library and robotic compound management system ideally suited to housing of the Joint European Compound Collection.” They also pointed out that funding of over £14m from a consortium of six pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer, was awarded to the University of Dundee and the Medical Research Council for research on the development of new drug treatments for major global diseases earlier this month.
The winner is expected to be announced later this month.
Salmond and Sturgeon wrote that it would be an “honour” for Scotland to be chosen as a partner in the European Lead Factory, adding: “…should we be selected, you can be assured of our warmest welcome and full support in the IMI’s aim of supporting more efficient processes for drug discovery and development of better and safer medicines for patients.” David Webber, communications adviser for the ELEGENCE project consortium, said it is “very rare” for a bid to secure this level of political support.
“To have something not only from the First Minister but cosigned by the Health Minister and using the language that they use – we’ve been using it very strongly here towards everyone and people are very impressed with it.” The consortium also includes partners from Oxford University, which Webber said was another “very important demonstration of the strength of the bid”.