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Evaluation of Scottish Stem Cell Network (SSCN): final report


The Scottish Stem Cell Network (SSCN) aims to create an over-arching body for interventions supporting the stem cell network. It encourages collaborative links between research scientists, clinicians, industry representatives and other stakeholders within an integrated stem cell community, in order to improve the rate at which laboratory research translates into therapeutic benefits for patients. The report evaluates the role, performance and economic impact of the SSCN over the period 2005 to 2011. It assesses the degree to which there remains a need for the SSCN to continue and explores the funding options available.


The methodology consisted of: a documentary analysis; an analysis of financial and monitoring information; fifty qualitative interviews with members of the SSCN, its Executive Team and wider stakeholders; and an online survey of the entire SSCN membership (with responses from 129 members, representing a response rate of eleven per cent).


The report finds that the SSCN remains an important mechanism for supporting stem cell based regenerative medicines with commercial potential and is demonstrating an increasingly commercial focus. The SSCN team is small, but the scale and breadth of its activities are considerable. It is largely SSCN's skill in brokerage and partnership working that allow the range of activities to be delivered. The SSCN has saved members both time and money by facilitating connections between them, or with external partners. The net economic impact of the SSCN attributable to SE’s support is estimated to be: sales of £1.22 million and research income of £5 million. In its turn this has generated some £4 million of net GVA and created 38 jobs.The SSCN has also enhanced understanding between the research base and industry. It has played a valuable role in both canvassing the views of the industry about skills gaps, designing projects to address these gaps, writing bids for funding and working with partners to deliver them. There is reluctance on the part of members to contribute to the cost of the SSCN and the report suggests that it cannot exist without a core level of public sector funding.


The report recommends that it would be unwise for the SSCN to cease to exist: this would undermine the investment made by Scottish Enterprise in stem cell research. The SSCN should continue to supplement core funding with funding from the private sector, members and external sources. It should broaden its membership, particularly its business member base, to create a greater pool of potential contributors of private sector finance. The SSCN should promote knowledge transfer and collaborative activity cross-discipline. The advantages of assuming charitable status should be explored (which may allow some fund-raising activities not currently an option for the Network). Consideration should be given to reducing the size of the Advisory Group and giving it a greater role in decision-making within the SSCN. The strategic direction of the SSCN should not lose sight of its key role in promoting practical moves towards the commercialisation of stem cell regenerative medicine.

Author Ekosgen
Published Year 2012
Report Type Evaluation
  • Business infrastructure
    Supporting key sectors
  • Sectors
    Life Sciences