Scotland takes aim at precision medicine breakthroughs with Catapult

Published: 26 October 2015

Glasgow has been named as the base of one of six regional centres of excellence by the Precision Medicine Catapult.

Glasgow has been named as the base of one of six regional centres of excellence by the Precision Medicine Catapult.

Established in April 2015 and funded by Innovate UK, the Precision Medicine Catapult is the UK's new national innovation centre for precision medicine. Its aim is to make the UK the most attractive place in the world in which to develop precision medicine test and therapies.Precision Medicine 450

The Scottish centre of excellence, based in Glasgow, will be led by the University of Glasgow and the Scottish Government on behalf of the NHS Research Scotland, the universities of Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen and industry partners Aridhia Informatics, ThermoFisher Scientific and Illumina.

Precision medicine uses diagnostic tests and data-based insights to understand a patient's disease more precisely and so select treatments with more predictable, safer, cost-effective outcomes. The UK’s research and clinical expertise, combined with the Government’s major investment in relevant research infrastructure, has placed it in a leading position in this area.

The other regional centres of excellence will be based in Belfast, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester and Oxford. Each centre will act as a hub for regional precision medicine activities within the UK-wide network, coordinated from Precision Medicine Catapult’s Cambridge headquarters. The centres of excellence will work on locally driven programmes and use the Precision Medicine Catapult network to harness the breadth of UK expertise, developing innovative technologies and solutions for broader use across the UK’s healthcare sector.

Professor Anna Dominiczak, Regius Professor of Medicine, Vice-Principal and Head of the University’s College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, said: “We are very pleased and proud to be partnering with the Precision Medicine Catapult to lead the only Scottish centre of excellence.

“Precision medicine aims to deliver the right drug for the right patient at the right time, and some of the best work in this emerging field is being done here in Scotland. Stratified Medicine Scotland – Innovation Centre, based in Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, is home to world-leading precision medicine exemplar projects whose input will help the centre of excellence achieve its goals, and excellent research is also being carried out across the whole of Scotland.

“We’re looking forward to working closely with the Precision Medicine Catapult to develop new forms of treatment for many chronic illnesses.”

The announcement was made in Glasgow by the UK Universities and Science Minister, Jo Johnson, who said: "The UK is a world leader in the life sciences and that’s in no small part thanks to innovative firms and academics across the country. As a One Nation Government we are committed to strengthening our capabilities in this crucial sector. These centres of excellence will join together a network of researchers to develop precision medicine technologies that will save lives and support growth in our world-class life science industry."‌

The Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Health, Shona Robison, said: “It is great news that Glasgow has been chosen as one of the regional centres of excellence for the Precision Medicine Catapult. Glasgow, and indeed Scotland, has a long established international reputation for innovation and world-leading research, with particular strengths and expertise in medicine and healthcare.

“This decision demonstrates how the Scottish Government’s investment of £124 million in our Innovation Centres attracts further funding from other sources. It adds to our potential to generate up to £1.5 billion for our economy and support around 5,000 jobs.”

A physical presence will be established at each centre, with local recruitment to build expert teams. The centres will work collaboratively with local, national and global stakeholders including government, academia, health systems and SMEs, with broad industry engagement to identify and resolve barriers to building a leading UK precision medicine industry.

Expertise in core areas such as data analytics, clinical trials, regulatory affairs and health economics will be based at the Cambridge head office, along with business services. Activities across all centres will include support of major clinical and data programmes, such as testing of new precision medicine-ready clinical trial models and the development of NHS adoption routes. Development of new diagnostics, IT and e-health systems are also fundamental to the success of the UK’s precision medicine industry, and the Precision Medicine Catapult will work with government initiatives, industry and regulators to build the sector.

John McKinley, CEO of the Precision Medicine Catapult, said: “We are delighted to announce the location of our first centres of excellence, each with access to a unique blend of regional expertise. Project development work has been ongoing across the UK and we will be launching offices and related programmes over the coming months. As well as growing the UK's strong position in precision medicine, we believe our network will deliver health and economic impact at a local and national level.”

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Notes to Editors

About the Precision Medicine Catapult

Established in April 2015, the Precision Medicine Catapult is the UK's new national innovation centre for precision medicine. Its aim is to make the UK the most attractive place in the world in which to develop precision medicine test and therapies, building on our leadership in this area to bring health and economic benefits. It is funded by Innovate UK, the Government's innovation agency, to the tune of £50m in its first five years. In its initial year of operations, the Precision Medicine Catapult is developing and testing its plans for tackling the key bottlenecks to the development of the industry. It will partner with precision medicine clusters across the UK to deliver this national strategy, while also bringing local healthcare impact. According to recent market reports, the global market for precision medicine therapies and diagnostics is growing strongly - currently valued in excess of £14bn annually, and forecast to reach £50-60bn by 2020. Please go to for more information, and you can also follow us on twitter @PMCatapult.

About Catapults

Catapult centres are being established and overseen by Innovate UK as a new addition to its range of programmes to stimulate innovation. They are places where the best of the UK’s innovative businesses and researchers work together to bring new products and services more quickly to commercialisation. Focusing on areas with great market potential, Catapults will open up global opportunities for the UK and generate economic growth for the future. For more information, please visit

Innovate UK is the new name for the Technology Strategy Board – we’re the UK’s innovation agency, accelerating economic growth. We know that taking a new idea to market is a challenge. We fund, support and connect innovative businesses through a unique mix of people and programmes to accelerate sustainable economic growth.  For further information visit our website at


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First published: 26 October 2015

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