Chemical Sciences Scotland, a partnership between industry, academia and the public sector, was launched this week to help boost Scotland’s chemical sciences sector.
‘The chemical sciences are the foundation of modern life and the cornerstone of Scotland’s industrial economy’, said Dr Sandy Dobbie, chairman of the new group, launching a plan aiming ‘to ensure a vibrant and competitive chemicals industry exists in Scotland in 20 years time.’
According to Dobbie, many of Scotland’s key industries, including life sciences, electronics, food and drink, energy and chemical production have the chemical sciences at their core. He said: ‘Most people just don’t realise how central the chemical sciences are to their daily lives, how critical this sector is to Scotland’s economic prosperity, or how well we already compete globally. It’s an undervalued asset to Scotland.
‘The chemicals industry alone contributes £3.5bn to our economy and is one of our biggest exporters, and it also supports over 70,000 highly paid jobs. Add to this Scotland’s world-class university research and education sectors in the chemical sciences and you begin to understand why we punch above our weight in this sector, despite intense global competition.’
Enterprise minister Jim Mather said: ‘I welcome the determination of this vibrant sector to come together and drive the Chemical Sciences Scotland initiative forward.
‘Their shared vision, shared ambition and shared sense of purpose are the hallmarks of other successful ventures, and I am sure that this approach will prove to be vital in helping chemical companies in Scotland continually adapt and compete.
‘As part of that process, the Scottish government will work with Chemical Sciences Scotland to foster the sustainable development and growth of this important sector.’
Scottish Enterprise (SE) supported the Chemical Sciences Scotland initiative from the beginning.
The keynote speaker at the launch, Sir Tom McKillop, RBS group chairman and former CEO of AstraZeneca, started his career studying chemistry at Glasgow University. McKillop said: ‘Scotland has a very proud history of innovation in the chemical sciences but we can’t rest on our laurels. As a chemist, and as a Scot, I’m delighted to welcome the creation of Chemical Sciences Scotland and the enthusiastic support it has received not only from within the sector but also from government and the public sector. My challenge to Chemical Sciences Scotland is to create a climate in which innovation flourishes. Be innovative and success will follow.’
CSS’s activities will cover five topic groups: innovation, sustainability, skills, reputation and investment. Over 80 of the sector’s leaders, including some from outside Scotland, have been set the task of turning these elements into practical action. Participants include a significant proportion of the managing directors from Scotland’s chemical sciences businesses and almost all of the department heads from Scotland’s chemical sciences universities, along with a range of senior people from government agencies, trade associations, knowledge transfer organisations and many other public and private bodies that have an interest in the success of the chemical sciences sector.