The University of Glasgow has been awarded £38m to create the Precision Medicine Living Lab – an internationally leading project focused on translating cutting-edge science and innovation into a real world clinical setting.

The Living Lab will be situated in University of Glasgow premises adjacent to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Campus in Govan. The government funding is provided through UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund, and was announced today by Alok Sharma. The award will enable the creation of a global centre of excellence for Precision Medicine, building on the existing world-leading ecosystem already in place.

Led by the same University of Glasgow team who set up the rapid response Lighthouse Lab COVID-19 testing facility in Glasgow, the Living Lab is made possible by a consortium of public and private partners, who have come together to develop and deliver this ambitious vision. The Living Lab partners are Thermo Fisher Scientific, Canon Medical Research Europe Ltd, Siemens Healthcare Ltd, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board, Bioclavis, Aridhia, MR Coiltech Limited, Glasgow Science Centre, Scottish Enterprise, Glasgow City Council, Kadans Science Partner UK Ltd, Precision Medicine Scotland and iCAIRD Ltd.

The University is also working alongside Glasgow City Council and Glasgow City Region City Deal in order to bring this world-leading development to the city. Alongside the £38m from the UKRI Strength in Places funding, the Living Lab will be supported by over £22m from industrial partners and an investment of £27.5m through the Glasgow City Region City Deal and Glasgow City Council. The Living Lab is projected to deliver 446 high-value jobs and £136m GVA over an 8-year period.

Precision Medicine is the tailoring of medical treatments to each patient’s characteristics, ultimately helping to treat people quickly and more effectively, and avoiding unnecessarily side effects from drugs that won’t work. Precision Medicine is made possible by using cutting-edge medical tools such as more precise diagnostics, imaging, genomics and artificial intelligence.

Working together, the consortium, led by the University of Glasgow, will create a cluster of Precision Medicine excellence in Govan, creating a facility which will have unparalleled interactions between academia, industry and the health service. By facilitating even more cross-sector collaborations, the Living Lab will also address the biggest challenge currently facing Precision Medicine: the translation of research innovation into clinical practice for the benefit of patients.

The Living Lab project will establish a new life sciences cluster around the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and offer growing space and support infrastructure for the development of Precision Medicine based health innovations so they can go from lab to health service. The Living Lab will help to support companies to develop and commercialise as well as to encourage business start-ups while offering the NHS substantial savings by implementing Precision Medicine in the UK’s largest hospital.

The global Precision Medicine market is projected to reach $134bn by 2025. Last year, a University of Glasgow-led BEIS Science and Innovation Audit highlighted the potential of Scotland’s unique health infrastructure to develop world-leading Precision Medicine innovations and enable the UK to be leaders in this field. The Living Lab will capitalise on this rapidly growing market by harnessing existing strengths and leadership in Precision Medicine to drive economic growth in one of Glasgow’s – and the UK’s – most deprived areas.

The University of Glasgow has already created the Clinical Innovation Zone – a unique space in Scotland where the Triple Helix of industry, academia and the NHS work alongside each other on Precision Medicine projects. Both the Clinical Innovation Zone and the Living Lab will form key nodes of the University-led Glasgow Riverside Innovation District, which aims to offer an opportunity to reimagine Glasgow’s proud industrial heritage for the 21st century and establish Glasgow’s leadership in the high-tech industries of the future.

University of Glasgow Principal, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, said: “Glasgow and Scotland are world-leaders in the field of Precision Medicine – and the new Living Lab will turn our research and innovation excellence into clinical practice, offering an unparalleled opportunity to deliver benefits for patients and savings for the NHS.

“But as well as being a game-changer for Precision Medicine in Scotland and the UK, this project will deliver a real impact for the local and national economy.  This is an area of the city synonymous with Glaswegian leadership in heavy industry – and it is deeply exciting that the University is helping to lead the way in reimagining this great industrial legacy for the 21st century.”

Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak, Vice Principal and Head of the College of Medicine, Veterinary and Life Sciences – Scotland’s leading expert on Precision Medicine  – said: “I am delighted that our bid to create the Living Lab has been successful in the highly competitive UKRI Strength in Places Fund. This project is of true local, national and international importance and will cement Scotland’s and the UK’s position as the world leader in Precision Medicine.

“The Living Lab will offer a game-changing opportunity to bring a dynamic collective of industry, academia and the NHS together to work on research and development opportunities that will have real world potential and implications for the NHS and ultimately patients. The development will also allow Scotland to further capitalise on its unique ‘triple helix’ approach to Precision Medicine, now a multibillion dollar industry.”

Dr Carol Clugston, Project Director, said: “The long-standing partnership of the University of Glasgow and NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital has created an unmatched campus for precision medicine innovation. The Living Laboratory project will enable a step-change for companies operating in this sector, by proactively addressing one of the most significant challenges for precision medicine – translating innovation into standard clinical practice.”

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:“Today’s announcement will ensure some of our country’s most promising R&D projects get the investment they need to take off and thrive.

“Working with the private sector our world-class universities, we’re backing new and innovative ideas that will create jobs and boost skills in every part of the UK for years to come.”

Ivan McKee, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, said: “I am delighted that precision medicine Living Lab is one of two projects from Scotland that have secured investment from this highly competitive fund. This project builds on the Scottish Government’s significant investment and our clinical and academic strengths within the life sciences community to maintain Scotland’s reputation as a world leading centre of excellence in precision medicine.

“Through collaboration with a range of partners this project will deliver improved patient outcomes, savings for the NHS, and tackle healthcare challenges. The project will also provide a significant boost to the local economy.”

Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of the Glasgow City Region City Deal Cabinet, said: “I’m delighted to see this funding come to Glasgow as the city cements its place as the world-leader in the field of Precision Medicine – and adds to the investment already taking place as the City Council and our partners work together to deliver the Glasgow Riverside Innovation District.

“As well as reaffirming our position as one of the most innovative cities in Europe, this project will also further contribute to the regeneration of Govan and the riverside area more generally – ensuring people in Glasgow feel the benefit of our world-leading research and innovation strengths.”

Peter Silvester, Senior Vice President and President, Life Science Solutions Group Thermo Fisher Scientific, said: “Thermo Fisher has had a longstanding partnership with Glasgow and Scotland. We now look forward to working with the Living Laboratory in Glasgow to pilot and validate technologies that have the potential to save many lives locally and generate significant savings for the NHS.”

Jane Grant, Chief Executive of NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde said: “The QEUH campus is uniquely placed to realise the potential of precision medicine and we look forward to working in partnership with the Living Laboratory consortium to translate innovation into standard clinical practice, benefitting patients and the NHS.”

Dr Ken Sutherland, President Canon Medical Research Europe said: “We see the creation of a Living Laboratory for Precision Medicine as an exciting and unique opportunity for various industry partners to collaborate together and with academics and clinicians to take forward early stage technology and innovation to a larger population.”

Linda Hanna, Managing Director Scottish Economic Development at Scottish Enterprise, said: “There has never been a greater spotlight on health.  So I really welcome this announcement of UK Strength in Places funding for the Living Lab led by University of Glasgow.

“The Living Lab is conducting cutting edge work in precision medicine which will benefit patients and the NHS, as well as creating high value jobs and opportunities to help tackle inequality. This funding will support the next steps to develop a cluster of life science businesses near Govan and help put Scotland at the heart of leading the fight against a range of illnesses and conditions.

Together with our recent funding for the Precision Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre on the same site, this award is not only excellent news for the local area but also Scotland’s Precision Medicine Ecosystem and the wider Scottish economy.”