In the past year, we’ve experienced a global health crisis, which has fundamentally shifted society and the way that we work and engage with others. Not since the booming ‘AIDS’ adverts of the ’80s has TV news and advert breaks been dominated with public health messages and daily tallies of deaths and infection rates. The constant hand washing, wearing of masks and social distancing has become part of our daily lives and appreciation for our front-line health care workers has never been higher.  

Scotland has a proud history in delivering solutions to healthcare challenges and has a well-developed supply chain, that throughout the pandemic has been pulling together to meet the supply chains needs of ventilators – and is now gearing up for vaccine manufacture. 

The spotlight has very firmly been placed on the development of solutions to meet the specific healthcare challenges of this year, but I wanted to highlight some of the other healthcare innovation in Scotland –being delivered outside of COVID – so here’s my own list of ‘Ones to watch’… 

Resolution Therapeutics

First up, Resolution Therapeutics– a recent spin-out from the University of Edinburgh developing macrophage cell therapies to repair organ damage, including treatment of end-stage chronic liver disease. Macrophages orchestrate the body’s immune system defence against infection and injury and whilst still, the company was only formed in August following a  £22.6M Series A investment from Synconadata from research over the past decade suggests the wound healing ability of macrophages can be used to stimulate organ repair following severe injury as a result of chronic disease – watch this space! 

Mironid Limited

Mironid Limited is developing proprietary drug candidate molecules by modulating the activity of key cell signalling proteins. Their current drug discovery pipeline is aimed at developing novel treatments for degenerative kidney diseases, chronic inflammatory diseases and cancer. Under the stewardship of CEO Neil Wilkie, the company has been coordinating multiple studies across all continents and following the appointment of Elaine Jones, the former Global VP of Pfizer Ventures as chair has made quantum progress in building big pharma interest.  

ODx Innovations

It’s been a phenomenal year of growth for Inverness based, medical device company,  ODx Innovations  With a relentless focus on transforming the speed at which antibiotic sensitivity tests are performed, the team is focussed to deliver quicker and more cost-effective ways to diagnose and treat Urinary Tract Infections (UTI). Globally over 150 million people suffer a UTI each year with a significant number developing into the more serious urosepsis if treatment isn’t timely or effective. Sepsis is a serious condition and is responsible for over 11 million deaths worldwide.The ground-breaking technology, being developed by Giles Hamilton and his team allows users to detect bacterial growth and predict antimicrobial sensitivity at the point of care within minutes rather than days. 

Cumulus Oncology

As the founder of one of Scotland’s most successful startups Nexus Oncology (acquired by OckhamClare Wareing knows better than most that over the last decade, oncology has been the single biggest area for research funding across academia, drug discovery, biotech and pharma. This research has led to a significant increase in the creation of oncology assets in laboratories across the world. Cumulus Oncology is developing anti-cancer therapies for clinical settings in areas of high unmet need, with the aim of developing improved outcomes for cancer patients. Cumulus has already established two spin-out companies, Nodus Oncology focused on DNA damage response and Modulus Oncology which is developing a first-in-class oncology asset. With both companies set to emerge from stealth-mode could we expect some funding news in 2021? 

Carcinotech

Oncology is also the focus for Carcinotech – A MedTech company manufacturing 3D bio-printed devices which mimic cancer environments using patient-specific stem cells on a micro-size chip. Formed by Ishani Malhotra and supported through University of Edinburgh’s Launch.ED programme, Carinotech’s product can be used as a tool for drug testing, cancer drug discovery and to study cancer biology. This innovative device not only replaces animal testing in pre-clinical trials but can also be used for testing personalised medicine, producing a good representation of the cancer environment of any cancer type in a human body. Currently seeking investment, Carinotech is based at the Roslin Innovation Centre. 

Life Sciences in Excellent Health

With Life Sciences rekindling the interest of investors globally, it looks as though the challenges of COVID-19 may lead to far-reaching healthcare solutions, well beyond the immediate need. 

Scotland’s history of innovation coupled with investor appetite, the development of the new BioHub in Aberdeen, the burgeoning life sciences communities in Inverness and Dundee, and further expansion at both Edinburgh’s BioQuarter and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, it is fair to say, the nation’s Life Sciences sector is in excellent health. 


Jane Kennedy

Jane Kennedy has huge experience in the world of Scottish start-ups. She has worked within Life Sciences establishing BioCity and with both Edinburgh and Glasgow University in their entrepreneurial teams.

She is an Associate Director with TalentSpark and focuses on supporting early-stage businesses to find the connections and team they need.