Why Invest

Dundee: Life Sciences & Biotech

Key Sectors: Life sciences and biotech

School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee.
© University of Dundee

Dundee hosts one of the most exciting life sciences clusters in the UK, with world-class companies, universities and research institutes all within a three mile radius.

Ideally located with excellent transport links to the rest of Scotland and the UK, the city offers life sciences and healthcare organisations the opportunity to operate in a uniquely collaborative environment and community, one where they can develop innovative products and services.


Dundee is driving the life sciences and healthcare sectors forward supported by BioDundee, comprising a partnership between the public, private, academic and third sector organisations, offering an open and accessible network to help aspiring companies develop and test products from concept through to launch. BioDundee’s role is to develop and build the strength of the life sciences and healthcare sectors in Dundee and the wider Tayside region through partnership working, networking and knowledge / skills development. Further afield it promotes and positions the region to relevant audiences as a major contributor to Scotland’s world-class life sciences and healthcare sectors.  The BioDundee Conference, has brought together the key people and organisations involved in Life Sciences, Healthcare and associated sectors across Scotland and internationally for two decades.  It is now in its 21st year and is the longest-running and most established event of its kind in Scotland. 

University of Dundee

© University of Dundee  

The University of Dundee has one of the highest concentrations of life scientists anywhere in the UK – more than 900 researchers from at least 50 countries – making fundamental discoveries on the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying health and disease to address global challenges. In the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality in higher education institutions, the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, Dundee was ranked the top university in biological sciences, while the 2021 QS World University Rankings in Biological Sciences placed Dundee 3rd in Europe, and 19th in the world by citations per paper.

The University of Dundee has invested significantly in its translational platforms, notably the Drug Discovery Unit, whose single dose treatment for malaria and new leishmaniasis therapeutics are now in clinical trials. The University’s School of Life Sciences is collaborating with the world’s major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in the fight against diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and tropical diseases. Many of the University’s researchers are also involved in major environmental issues like the development of new bio-fuels and crop resilience.

The city is home also to one of the largest and best teaching hospitals in the UK housing the University’s School of Medicine and NHS Tayside clinical research innovation and clinical trials. The Dundee Medical School is 3rd in UK for Medicine (The Complete University Guide 2022). Clinical research strengths include pharmacology, metabolic, cardiovascular, cancer, neurosciences, and respiratory diseases, and allied clinical technology in clinical Imaging, image guided surgery, health informatics and medical technologies.

James Hutton Institute

Ground breaking ceremony for the IBH and APGC, 26th Aug 2021

The James Hutton Institute in Dundee is leading research in innovative agriculture, with £62m funding from the UK and Scottish governments through the Tay Cities Region Deal to develop its International Barley Hub (IBH) and the Advanced Plant Growth Centre (APGC). The former is creating a world-class plant science innovation hub and research centre to enhance the production of quality barley for a sustainable agricultural supply chain, and the latter is bringing increased commercial, economic and environmental benefits to the agriculture, food and drink sectors via innovative use of precision controlled environmental technologies.  Assessment of the economic impact of investment in these targets areas has been predicted to generate 1795 jobs in Scotland alone and a net benefit to Scotland of £220M.  Crucially, the APGC has longstanding collaborations with leading controlled environment agriculture companies Intelligent Growth Solutions and Liberty Produce Ltd.

© Intelligent Growth Solutions
© Liberty Produce Ltd.

Citywide initiatives

There is a city-wide focus on delivering societal impact from life sciences innovation, which is proving attractive both for potential residents and employees considering moving to Dundee and for potential investors. Ground breaking science and innovation has attracted major inward investment such as as Böehringer Ingelheim’s decision to team up with protein expert Professor Alessio Ciulli – the major force behind the University of Dundee’s new Centre for Targeted Protein Degradation– , to develop a world-changing class of drugs that can “drug the undruggable”. This entirely new approach is revolutionising drug discovery making the treatment of diseases previously thought  to be undruggable a reality.  The translation of medical technologies in basic sciences in engineering to clinical NHS adoption in the “bench to bedside” is encapsulated in a proposed new multidisciplinary institute in biomedical engineering and medical technology. Working with global industrial partners, the academic base and NHS Tayside through the Tayside Innovation Medtech Ecosystem (TIME) is driving collaborative innovative approaches to Medical Technology adoption for early patient benefit.

The strength of the life sciences research base has played a key role in developing the local biotech cluster.  With major recent investments in innovative discovery and translation, Dundee is continuing to grow and build on excellence, nurturing the next generation of scientific talent to maximise its impact as one of the leading centres in Europe for life sciences research. A step change in commercialisation activity at the University has delivered notable major spin out successes with the University of Dundee recognised as one of the best universities in the UK for producing successful spinouts. Commercial successes include Exscientia, a world leader in Artificial Intelligence-driven (AI) drug discovery and design and the biggest European biotech IPO last year. Another successful University spinout Amphista Therapeutics is creating first in class therapeutics that help harness the body’s natural processes to selectively and efficiently degrade proteins that cause diseases.  Further commercial successes include medtech company  Vascular Flow Technologies which designs, manufactures and partners global Medtech leaders to deliver vascular implantable products.


New regional life sciences Innovation Hub
© University of Dundee

Dundee has been actively seeking opportunities to grow the cluster, career pathways and job potential through partnerships and funding mechanisms  such as the Tay Cities Deal. Relationships with the investment community are also key: Dundee university utilises its excellent relations to engage with potential investors and showcase Dundee’s life sciences technologies and their impact.

One of the key challenges in growing the Life Sciences clusters has been to ensure the  availability of quality commercial and business infrastructure to anchor and scale spin-out companies in the region, rather than see them move further afield. The Tay Cities Regional Innovation Hub, supported by the Tay Cities Deal, is a new 5,800m2 (gross) three-storey facility located next to the university’s main campus. It will fill a critical gap by anchoring new high-growth spin out companies generated from the burgeoning life sciences research activity in the region. Construction of the Innovation Hub begins in June 2022, with completion expected in December 2023. New investment is also bolstering MedTech research and commercialisation activity at the University of Dundee in providing state of the art research and training facilities  which will underpin clinically informed  medical device development and testing of emerging medical technologies and enhance healthcare skills training provision in support of MedTech innovation and its  early clinical adoption.

Collectively, the depth and breadth of the life sciences research and innovation assets in Dundee, and inward investment in the sector in life sciences companies and infrastructure is underpinning proposals for an exciting new life sciences innovation district in Dundee. This will provide a focus for public, private and academic partners to come together to strengthen critical mass. Dundee is prepared to be the powerhouse for Scotland’s bio-economy and beyond, enabling the translation of life sciences research into productive company creation and retainment. Working in partnership with a range of similarly minded organisations, the city is demonstrating excellent prospects for business investment and a highly advantageous environment for enterprises to grow, leading to the provision of earlier access to healthcare advances and the creation of high quality jobs.


Karen Duncan
Dundee City Council
Dundee House, 50 North Lindsay Street, Dundee DD1 1LS


Related UN Sustainable Development Goals
Goal 2. Zero Hunger
Goal 3. Good Health and Wellbeing
Goal 4. Quality Education
Goal 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
Goal 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

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