Life Sciences Scotland Open Brexit Letter – Dave Tudor
I am writing on behalf of Life Sciences Scotland, the Industry Leadership group for Life Sciences in Scotland, to outline the critical areas we believe need to be addressed as the UK negotiates its exit from the European Union.
The Scottish life sciences sector employs 37,000 people across some 700 organisations. Companies in the sector contribute more than £4.2bn turnover and about £2bn gross value added to the Scottish economy, and the sector is growing at around 6% per annum.
Scotland is home to a range of small and medium enterprises as well as global life sciences companies. We have a strong track record of growing existing businesses, and creating and growing start-up businesses. A thriving entrepreneurial culture in our universities creates more spin outs than any other region of the UK.
The life sciences sector in Scotland comprises a wide range of interrelated sub sectors including medical technologies (medtech), diagnostics, contract research and other pharma services activities, pharmaceuticals, digital health, agritech, aquaculture and animal health. Medtech/diagnostics companies comprise nearly half of the sector in Scotland, and pharmaceuticals about 5%. This differs significantly from the composition of the sector in the rest of the UK.
Our members have indicated that the uncertainty arising from the UK Government decision to leave the European Union is already having negative impacts on these life sciences companies in Scotland, and the concern is that this is set to intensify.
Our aim is to ensure that the Scottish Life Sciences sector continues to thrive and grow and we believe there is significant benefit in continued close partnership and collaboration with the EU for the benefit of patients and consumers globally. We have been canvassing life sciences companies over the past six months on the opportunities and threats likely to arise from Brexit and have identified the following main areas that need to be addressed:
- Regulation – the sector is of the clear view that UK life sciences regulation should not diverge from EU regulation and should continue to see continued cooperation with the European Medicines Agency. We would strongly resist creating a new and untried Scottish life sciences regulator when there is a long established global regulatory system.
- Trade & Supply – Ease of movement of our goods and supplies needs to continue tariff free and there needs to be minimal customs procedures to allow quick and efficient distribution of our products across the EU. As a minimum there needs to be continued mutual recognition for testing and release between the UK/EU & EU MRA Partners to ensure security of supply to our patients. Companies also stress the importance of the US life sciences market and are supportive of a UK / US trade deal being initiated along with any UK/EU agreement.
- Accesses to talent – companies want experts and life sciences managers from the EU and overseas to be able to enter the UK at least as easily as at present; we would have concerns over any restrictions on highly-skilled talent entering Scotland.
- Maintaining R&D – the sector needs to continue to benefit from the excellent R&D relationships and collaborations. Securing science funding levels is imperative.
We would be glad to arrange a meeting to discuss these important issues further, and to brief you in more detail about this key sector of the Scottish economy. We are planning an event at London House late October/early November and will send the details to you.
Life Sciences Scotland Industry Leadership Group