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Biotechnology

The south west is a major centre of biomedical research with internationally recognised expertise and approximately 12,000 employees in over 300 companies.

The sector has seen rapid expansion, the main drivers for this expansion have been through research and development activities, forged through links with regional universities and specialist research park facilities. This is a fast changing, innovative sector that forges partnerships and collaborations between many partners.

Biomedical research activities are centred around universities at Bath, Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth, the Health Protection Agency and the Defence, Science and Technology laboratory at Porton Down in Wiltshire.

The sector is primarily supported through a hub for the life sciences and biotechnology knowledge economy of the south west known as BioApproaches SW.


In addition, NHS Innovations South West provides a support service for NHS staff who wish to develop innovative ideas and inventions to improve patient care.

Skills shortages

Recent research has identified a number of skills shortages and gaps within the broader bioscience sector. Such gaps represent opportunities for graduates. It stands to reason that if you can develop the skills that are in short supply, you'll enhance your employment prospects.

The bioscience sector is characterised by a declining pool of graduates with bioscience related degrees. In addition, only a small number of these graduates then progress to either a career in a bioscience industry. This means that supply is not matching demand and consequently, there are not enough cutting edge researchers, bench scientists or skilled technicians required for the development of bioscience.

The greatest skills shortages are in:
  • Clinical / pharmacology / experimental medicine
  • Bioscience and molecular biology
  • Analytical and physical chemistry
  • Process and chemical engineering
  • In vivo sciences
  • Bioinformatics
  • Geomics / proteomics / metabolomics
  • Synthetic organic chemistry / medicinal chemistry


    In addition, the sector is experiencing a shortage of generic skills in:
    • Business skills
    • Management skills
    • IT skills
    • Project management
    • Team working
    • Regulation