Biocity UK report reveals Scotland has highest ever recorded number of Life Science start-ups


Nottingham, UK. Tuesday, 19 November 2019 – BioCity, the pioneering life science incubator and business collective today releases its biennial publication, the UK Life Science Start-Up Report, an in-depth analysis of emerging businesses within the life sciences across the UK.

The report has collected, analysed and interpreted data for nearly a decade and a half; and is a key publication for the life science industry.

The report, authored by BioCity Chairman and former CEO, Dr Glenn Crocker MBE, looks at the prevalence of life science start-ups in the UK over the past five years and the broader landscape in which they operate to also asses the quality of UK life science start-ups. By analysing the number of start-ups by region, area of scientific focus, funding, investment and university association; the report creates a broad picture of the current health and future of, the industry.

The report depicts the past five years as a ‘baby boom’ for the life sciences with an unprecedented period of growth. The number of Scottish life science start-ups is the highest ever recorded by the BioCity UK Life Science Start-Up Report, with the city regions of Edinburgh and Greater Glasgow among the fastest growing locations in the country. Companies in the sector are becoming increasingly clustered, with 84% of Scottish Life Science start-ups found in just three city regions: Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Greater Glasgow.

Scotland is in the leading pack, along with London, the East, South East and North West of England in terms of being the most active life science start-up areas although it has slipped from first to fifth place over the past decade.

In particular, Scotland is emerging as the leading centre in the UK in agricultural biotech, clean, or environmental, biotech and industrial biotech start-ups.

Dr Glenn Crocker said, “Scotland is building on its strength in fisheries, arboriculture and related areas. A prime example is a company called CuanTec, which takes the waste shells from langoustines (currently an environmental headache) and uses a bacterial fermentation process to extract a highly pure form of chitin from the shells. This is then used to make a biodegradable film which can be used to wrap the langoustines on the supermarket shelf. It’s hard to think of many locations outside Scotland this company would be more at home.”

The report has found that Scottish companies are much more successful at attaining grant funding, with companies in Scotland achieving the highest average amount of grant funding per company followed by London and the South East.

Life science start-ups in Scotland represent 11% of the UK total in number but secure 21% of the total UK grant funding recorded by the report. With grant funding representing around 28% of all funding for companies in Scotland (venture and grant), compared to 5% of funding of companies in London.

Venture capital funding for companies in Scotland remains a challenge, with Scottish life science start-ups receiving just 3% of the total investment made into UK start-up businesses in the sector.

The findings of the BioCity UK Life Science Start-Up Report will be discussed in full by Dr Crocker during a key-note speech to an invited audience of industry figures at a launch event at BioCity Glasgow on Tuesday 10 December 2019.

To download a copy of the report, visit


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Biocity UK report reveals Scotland has highest ever recorded number of Life Science start-ups