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

In 2017, life sciences made up 4.8% of Scotland’s international exports (£1.57 billion). It also made up 0.7% of its UK exports (£360 million).

Chemical sciences made up 9.7% of Scotland’s international exports (£3.2 billion). 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 2017.

Between 2002 and 2017 Scotland’s life sciences exports increased:

  • internationally from £750 million to £1.57 billion
  • to the rest of the UK from £260 million to £360 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 2017.

Between 2002 and 2017 Scotland’s chemical sciences exports increased:

  • internationally from £2 billion to £3.2 billion
  • to the rest of the UK from £600 million to £1.3 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.