THE Scottish life sciences sector is hoping for a boost after it was confirmed a major chemical storage and logistics hub will be based in North Lanarkshire.

Hundreds of thousands of chemical compounds will be held at a state-of-the-art facility at the BioCity campus as part of a European-wide initiative to speed up the creation of new medicines.

The Scottish Screening Centre, based at the former Organon site in Newhouse, and a similar facility in the Netherlands will play a major part in the European Lead Factory.

Loading article content

Seven large pharmaceutical companies, including Bayer and AstraZeneca, have joined forces with universities and smaller businesses in the venture to help find new drugs more quickly.

Traditionally access to corporate chemical compounds is highly restricted, but the collaboration means all partners can work on the whole library to look for potential medicines.

The scheme is being supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) with a budget of €196 million.

Participating companies, which are members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, are providing €91m, while €80m is coming from the European Commission and €25m from other participants.

Dundee University is also involved and will station a team at the centre to carry out screening and medicinal chemistry.

It is estimated between 30 and 40 jobs will be created at the site in areas ranging from science and chemistry to informatics.

The centre is around 12,000 square feet and can store more than a million samples.

While the facility is now open, it is expected to be the summer before the first processing of compounds is undertaken.

The Scottish Government and Scottish Funding Council is providing £3.5m of funding, with more than £16m from IMI.

It is hoped the placement of the site will encourage other companies to start-up or expand into Scotland.

Professor Andrew Hopkins, from Dundee University, said: "This announcement helps give confidence to the life sciences sector in Scotland and we are hopeful about its spin-offs."

BioCity group chief executive Dr Glenn Crocker said: "For me, the exciting aspect is the opportunity it provides to discover novel drugs through the collaboration of seven companies."