Chris Roche has at least two good reasons to be optimistic. One is, on the day that we speak, that global pharmaceuticals giant Glaxo-SmithKline announced that it is to invest £275 million to expand its manufacturing sites in the UK, despite its chief executive, Sir Andrew Witty backing the Remain camp in the Brexit debate and a referendum result that led to fears that big pharma firms might pack their very expensive bags and head out of the UK.

The second is that Aridhia, the company of which Roche is CEO has just moved into impressive new Scottish headquarters, relocating from Glasgow’s Blythswood Square to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and has recently formed a major new partnership with a university in the Netherlands.

Encouraging signs that Scotland – and the UK – remains a highly successful and attractive location for the healthcare sector.

"It’s a validation of everything we’ve been building for years," says Roche. "It shows other countries buying into something we’ve designed and built out of Scotland and there’s a hotbed of data science that we can export."

Aridhia was founded in 2008 by Scots software engineer David Sibbald, who remains executive chairman.

The clinical informatics company helps speed up medical research with its cloud-based data and analytics platform AnalytiXagility – reducing the time needed to diagnose and treat people with chronic conditions.

For instance, a project on which Aridhia worked with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde saw the time taken to process sample data from patients with traumatic brain injuries from 16 hours to 48 minutes – demonstrating the real, human benefits of using advanced analytics in a clinical setting.

Two words continually recur as Roche describes the company’s strategy: speed and collaboration. "We’re focusing on clinical research, allowing people to create a digital research environment bringing together data across multiple companies or organisations."

Collaboration is pivotal to that process: "We work in pre-competitive consortia which, with a range of skills, accelerates the time from when you think of an idea to getting it into clinical practice.

"And currently that can be 17 to 19 years so the challenge is how to bring all those clinical records, all that data together – and how do you do that across several countries or jurisdictions?"

He references the company’s collaboration with the NHS, the University of Glasgow and Philips Healthcare working with Dr Laura Moss and a team of multi-disciplinary scientists and clinicians.

"The problem with traumatic head injuries is that a lot of the patients can’t speak – but there are millions of data points being generated every day and we want to take these and analyse them in real time to predict intra-cranial pressure, which gives the patients a better chance of receiving the right treatment."

He also highlights the effects of Methotrexate, a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. "When you take it you have a 50/50 chance of it being effective and not everyone responds to it well and needs to be put on a different regimen.

"We sequence the genomes of all these people to see if there are any patterns in their biomarkers that would suggest how they might react."

Among the challenges the company faces are the extremely strict privacy regulations and requirements that vary from country to country.

"We are very aware of these regulations and evolving areas such as consent management – because you want to involve the patient more in the actual research and the test is how we do this and also adhere to privacy and information governance."

In May Aridhia won its biggest ever deal in the Netherlands, one that it said would facilitate biomedical research on an unprecedented scale.

The three-year deal with Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, which employs more than 10,000 people, will employ Aridhia’s cloud-based platform across its whole campus. "We’ve done great individual projects before but this gives us a whole ecosystem and will give us access to people who will test our platform to its limit."

The development also gives Aridhia a new distribution hub, in addition to the UK and Scotland and a workplace next door to Stratified Medicine Scotland, one of its key partners in digital precision medicine.

"Some of the projects that are using our platform have 40 or 50 collaborating organisations, from universities to hospitals to clinical research organisations and these can be across country and organisational borders. When you cross any border you have to agree where to put this data, who we trust and who is going to give us best service."

Speaking of borders, was the Euro Referendum vote a major disappointment to him?

Roche refers to what consultants McKinsey dubbed "the new normal" after the banking crisis in 2008.

"I’d have preferred that it hadn’t gone the way it did but people are saying ‘it’s happened – now let’s make it work’. We are, though, working with a multi-disciplinary, mobile workforce and what we don’t want, post-Brexit, is people deciding to go elsewhere. But GSK’s investment in the UK is a good sign and whatever the new normal is, we’ll work through it."

Based in Surrey and in Scotland three days a week, Roche is also busy in London and the Netherlands but is determined to
maintain a work/life balance, through riding and charity work with his wife.

It’s an approach he believes helps the corporate ethos: "I’m a huge believer in doing things beyond the workplace," he says.

"We want our employees to be rounded individuals: if you are fit and healthy it helps you think clearly." And, presumably, faster. 