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Translational and clinical medicine study: report to Scottish Enterprise


This study of translational and clinical medicine (TCM) in Scotland was conducted to: assess progress to date and areas of likely future impact of current TCM-related interventions supported by Scottish Enterprise (SE); identify how Scotland’s current competitive position in TCM can be transformed into economic growth; help SE understand the role it should play within the wider TCM landscape; and design an appropriate monitoring and evaluation framework for SE’s TCM activities. Five current TCM-related interventions are within the scope of the brief for this study: Translational Medicine Research Collaboration (TMRC); NHS Research Scotland Permissions Coordinating Centre (NRS Permissions CC); Scottish Academic Health Sciences Collaboration (SAHSC); Scottish Health Innovations Limited (SHIL); and Edinburgh Bioquarter.


The study used desk-based and primary research methods. Secondary sources of evidence include: documents provided by the client containing descriptions of the existing interventions, supplemented by web-based public domain descriptions; documents provided on the current Life Sciences Strategy and on prior research; and web-derived information on TCM activities in comparator locations. Primary research was undertaken using either telephone interviews or face-to-face consultations with 19 individuals from different parts of the TCM landscape in Scotland.


On progress to date and likely future impact, the study concludes that: substantial achievements in enhancing collaboration within and between the academic sector and NHS have been made; the collaboration that formed the TMRC was a notable achievement, although benefits for the indigenous TCM-related business base are yet to be seen; the NRS Permissions CC appears to have made good, early progress in achieving efficiencies in NHS procedures for approving multi-centre trials; the views obtained on the efficacy and impact of SHIL were mixed, despite reporting individual commercialisation successes; and Bioquarter, although a new initiative, has enjoyed early, if relatively small scale endorsement of its attractiveness following a recent announcement of an inward investor taking space on the site. In terms of future impact, there is some growth expected in trials opportunities as a result of the NRS Permissions CC initiative. Other potential for economic growth exists in replicating the inward investment achieved by the TMRC. It is relatively straightforward to fit activity in support of TCM to government policy and SE Strategy. The key uncertainty is the time to realising optimum economic impact from current interventions, notably the TMRC, SAHSC and Bioquarter, which may only emerge over the longer term. There is a fairly widespread endorsement of the view that Scotland is well positioned internationally with respect to the competitive position of its TCM-related assets. However, Scotland’s position with respect to commercialisation achievements lags behind its research and clinical excellence; and there is a strong sense that TMRC may not be meeting early economic development expectations. Commercialisation and replicating the inward investment of the type associated with TMRC are the key paths to transforming competitive position in research and clinical medicine into economic growth. Both these issues therefore require close attention by SE.


It is recommended that the following issues be given priority attention by SE: a re-assessment of how much value-adding collaboration is ongoing within all the current interventions that has an influence and beneficial impact, specifically on indigenous businesses; the nature and feasibility of enhancing further the exchange of knowledge and people between the research-base and indigenous businesses; and on marketing of the TCM interventions, to re-assess the efficacy of marketing efforts towards pharma companies internationally, towards investors and towards indigenous companies. More generally, it is concluded that there is a need to articulate much more clearly towards the business-base in Scotland the relevance to them of the TCM initiatives that are already being supported and to monitor and evaluate the actual benefits to business in Scotland that are delivered over time.

Author SQW Consulting
Published Year 2010
Report Type Research
  • Innovation
  • Internationalisation
    Inward investment
  • Sectors
    Life Sciences