Scientists in Dundee and Lanarkshire in £100m drug research project

Scientists in Lanarkshire and Dundee have won a major Europe-wide drug discovery contract.

In the biggest ever investment of its kind in Scotland from the European Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), industry experts at BioCity Scotland in Newhouse, the centre created at the former Organon drug factory near the M8, will work with Dundee University scientists on a £100m international project, researching new drug treatments.

Jobs were lost at the former Organon factory when it closed down back in 2010. An 'incubator' style project opened up there in its place after the site was gifted to BioCity (Nottingham) And Roslin BioCentre as a joint venture.

Now the new contract is expected to create around 40 new positions.

First Minister Alex Salmond welcomed the news, announced on Thursday during a meeting with the consortium partners at Bute House, as "putting Lanarkshire and Dundee at the heart of international drug discovery".

Mr Salmond added that being chosen from a field of European competitors reinforced Scotland's international reputation as "a nation at the forefront of scientific breakthroughs".

The Lanarkshire facility has been named as the Scottish Screening Centre for a team of 30 international partners, all working together to share the chemical compounds that form the building blocks of new medicines. In partnership with the Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance (SULSA), the University of Dundee will place a team of drug discovery scientists at BioCity Scotland to conduct screening and medicinal chemistry activities for the project.

Mr Salmond said: "BioCity Scotland, SULSA and Dundee University have succeeded in bringing a huge and valuable piece of work to Scotland, against international competition.

"This provides enormous opportunities for Scotland’s life sciences sector and is fantastic recognition of the talent and expertise of Scotland's life sciences community.

"In particular, this deal shows the combined strength of our universities and commercial experts. Working together, they have been able to secure the biggest ever IMI contract of its kind in Scotland, putting Lanarkshire and Dundee at the forefront of drug discovery in Europe for many years to come.

"This is a very large contract indeed, a total of around £100m, including investment of £16.3m from the European IMI and £3.5m from the Scottish Funding Council and the Scottish Government. Also included is £75m in proprietary drug compounds from participating pharmaceutical companies and for use by project partners, all of which will be stored at BioCity Scotland."

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