Life and chemical sciences

An image of test tubes depicting the life and chemical sciences sector

In 2018, life sciences made up 5.7% of Scotland’s international exports (£1,945 billion). It also made up 1.1% of its UK exports (£550 million).

Chemical sciences made up 9.5% of Scotland’s international exports (£3,225 million). It also made up 2.7% of its UK exports (£1.3 billion).

Life sciences covers the manufacture of:

  • basic pharmaceutical products and preparations
  • medical/dental instruments and supplies

It also covers scientific research, development and services.

Chemical sciences covers the manufacture of:

  • coke and refined petroleum products
  • chemicals and chemical products

How Scotland’s life sciences exports have increased since 2002

Graph showing how Scotland’s life sciences exports increased to the rest of the UK and internationally between 2002 and 2018.

Between 2002 and 2018 Scotland’s life sciences exports increased:

  • internationally from £745 million to £1,945 million
  • to the rest of the UK from £260 million to £550 million

How Scotland’s chemical sciences exports have increased since 2002

Graph showing how Scotland’s chemical sciences exports increased to the rest of the UK and internationally between 2002 and 2018.

Between 2002 and 2018 Scotland’s chemical sciences exports increased:

  • internationally from £2 billion to £3.2 billion
  • to the rest of the UK from £595 million to £1.6 billion

Where we can sell more

A Trading Nation used evidence to work out where Scotland could sell the most in future.

This evidence shows where:

  • there’s a large or growing demand for imports
  • Scotland’s exporting less than other, similar countries

The similar countries are Finland, Norway, Denmark and Ireland.

Life sciences

Countries where there’s a large or growing demand for life sciences imports:

Where Scotland’s currently exporting less than similar countries:

Chemical sciences

There’s large or growing demand for chemical sciences imports to China.

Where Scotland’s currently exporting less than similar countries:

What we're going to do

To help life and chemical sciences exports, we'll:

  • work with industry bodies and the enterprise agencies to create market development plans for selected sub-sectors and countries
  • use Ministerial visits to build relationships with parent companies of key Scottish-based businesses
  • develop the international leadership and sales skills of businesses, helping them take advantage of export opportunities
  • find GlobalScots or Trade Envoys who can offer businesses advice, support and introductions

You can find more information on Scotland’s life and chemical sciences sector in A Trading Nation.