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Looking at the key challenges facing pharma companies: finding new markets abroad and overcoming barriers to growth

Twenty three industry leaders from Scotland’s therapeutics and pharmaceutical services industry came together at the "Driving Growth in the Therapeutics and Pharma Services Sector – Internationalisation" event in Glasgow to discuss key challenges to international growth.

At the session, they identified a number of key issues facing Scottish pharma services companies with ambitions to expand their business overseas.

Challenge: How do you choose the right overseas markets?

Solutions: There are a number of factors that you should consider when choosing an overseas markets:

  • Is there a demand for your product in that market?
  • What is the country’s regulatory framework? Will you have to get specific permits in order to operate there?
  • Are there logistical issues that might affect your ability to grow in that market?
  • What sort of purchasing power do your international customers have? 
  • Where are the purchase decisions made in client companies?
  • What are the language and cultural issues that you might face?

Challenge: How do you identify which international partnering events and conferences to attend?

Solutions: Consider the following factors:

  • Costs - what sort of return on investment will you get?
  • Will your customers be there?
  • Will your competition be there?
  • Are you able to get a speaking slot? This often allows you to get a free speaker pass and means you don’t have to pay for a booth. 

Use your contacts to identify events, such as:

  • Our international arm, Scottish Development International – we can provide support for attending conferences
  • Scientific officers at the British embassies
  • Overseas missions
  • Customers
  • Colleagues in the pharma services sector in Scotland

Challenge: How can you work collaboratively with other Scottish life sciences organisations when pursuing international contracts?

Connect with life sciences companies in Scotland

Find organisations involved in research, product and technology development, services and support within Scotland's life sciences and biotech sector.

Search the Scottish life sciences supply chain directory


  • Identify companies that can provide services that complement yours - this allows you to provide a more comprehensive offering through formal or informal partnerships. You can use our life sciences supply chain directory to help identify possible partners.
  • Decide who will lead on sales and who will manage the relationship with the company once you win the contract. 
  • Ensure the customer is aware of what each organisation in the partnership does and how your services complement each other.
  • Create one contract for the whole project instead of separate contracts per company - this will make it easier for the customer.

Challenge: How do you recruit staff who have good knowledge of your product and can sell it in an international market?


  • Use the sales team in conjunction with the scientists to co-sell your product
  • Maintain continuity with clients by having the scientist project manage a client once the sale is through 
  • Know when the sales team needs support from more senior staff or scientists to close a deal, especially if you have a small team 

Challenge: How can you get the support that you need to grow your pharmaceutical company overseas?

Solutions: With global offices and in-market support, we can help your company take advantage of exciting international opportunities for growth in pharmaceuticals. Our experts can help you attend high-profile international events, research your market and prepare to start exporting.

Find out about life sciences opportunities overseas