Firstly, I hope you, your families and all employees in the Life Sciences sector are safe and well during this challenging Covid-19 virus situation. I know it is a time for both the health of the nation and a major disruption to economic performance and future plans.
As such, never has the value of a vibrant life sciences sector, and the world leading expertise associated with it, been more felt by the country. From the application of cutting edge research by our world leading academic institutions, to the agility and pace of the small enterprises that provide the latest innovation to supply chains, it is clear that the life sciences sector in Scotland is demonstrating the essential role it plays in our lives.
However, over 650 of the 700 life science organisations in Scotland are small enterprises and, like many small businesses, the current situation presents a challenge to operations and a threat to revenues. The opportunities for financial assistance from the Government and the increasing number of business support initiatives emerging across the country are welcome but it can be difficult to identify those most relevant to a sector.
Life Sciences Scotland recognises both the tremendous value the sector can bring to the Covid-19 effort as well as the unique set of challenges the current situation is creating for small life science businesses. This section of the website, therefore, aims to provide links to sector-specific resources and support relating to Business Support Initiatives and opportunities to support the Covid-19 effort.
Dave Tudor, Co-Chair The Life Sciences Industry Leadership Group
FUNDING SCHEMES FOR SMALL AND MEDIUM SIZED ENTERPRISES
The Innovate UK Future Fund aims to support innovative businesses facing financial difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak. From May 2020 the scheme will issue convertible loans between £125k and £5m to innovative companies that meet the criteria.
The Small Business Support Grant enables businesses that are laboratory-based to apply for a grant of up to £10,000.
The Business Interruption Loan scheme enables small and medium sized enterprises to access loans and other kinds of finance up to £5m. You can apply for the loan if you can demonstrate that your UK-based company has been adversely affected by the coronavirus outbreak and would be a viable business if it wasn’t for the pandemic.
The Bounce Back Loan Scheme enables small and medium sized enterprises to borrow between £2000 and up to 25% of their turnover (up to a maximum of £50,000). There are no fees or interest for the first year and after that the interest rate will be set at 2.5%.
Scottish Enterprise Funding Information & Support Service (FISS) Funding Bulletin provides the latest information on funding information from Scottish Enterprise. This previously internal bulletin has now been made available to organisations outside Scottish Enterprise. To request regular bulletins please email Desmond.email@example.com
Scottish Health Innovations Ltd (SHIL) have announced a new seed fund of up to £25k to harness the knowledge and expertise of health and social care professionals across Scotland to develop innovative solutions in response to the crisis.
Business rates relief discounts and grants have been introduced by the Scottish Government. The reliefs will be available to non-domestic properties from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. You can apply for a grant from now until 31 March 2021.
For start-ups or companies occupying new premises, you can apply for relief from most councils online. For details of the different schemes available, visit https://www.mygov.scot/non-domestic-rates-relief/
Testing for Key Workers now includes workers in medicines and pharmaceutical supply (Priority Group 2). Testing will allow symptomatic key workers to know whether or not they have the virus.
Guidance on Managing Clinical Trials during coronavirus has been issued by the MHRA and includes direction for managing ongoing trials, providing investigational medicinal product for trial participants and reporting of serious adverse events.
The Bioindustry Association are running COVID-19 webinars every Thursday at 11am to bring you key information on the COVID-19 situation for BIA member companies and the life sciences sector.
SUPPORTING THE COVID-19 EFFORT
For businesses looking to offer Covid-19 support, The Scottish Government has issued guidance for companies and provided an online form that can be submitted to a central point of call.
Businesses, third sector or voluntary organisations who wish to offer support can also email firstname.lastname@example.org with details such as:
- Your organisation’s key contact and their role
- What you are offering and how it might be best applied
- How quickly your support could be available
- Whether you are offering this as a donation or a chargeable service
NHS Scotland are particularly keen on offers of support for Aprons, Eye Protection, Gowns & Visors and the portal enables organisations to register to offer support.
NHS Supply Chain Support
For the provision of specific supplies listed below, please email the NHS Supply Chain address – Covid-19NHSsupplychain@gov.scot (Please note that this is only to be used for the sourcing and provision of supplies.)
- Ventilators and associated kit for Intensive Care Unit needs – Specification as required from UK Government website and Healthcare Improvement Scotland COVID19 website
- Face masks – FFP3 masks that comply with EN149:2001
- Surgical masks – Type IIR Fluid Resistant
- Surgical gowns
- Hand Sanitiser – hospital / social care requirements
- Swabs-Testing Kit – MW951S (bottle, agent, stick)
- Disposable eye wear and disposable full face visors
A partnership between the Department of Health and Social Care, the UK Bioindustry Association, British In Vitro Diagnostics Association and the Royal College of Pathologists to identify new and novel solutions to help increase Coronavirus testing methods, supplies and capacity across the UK.