Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance (SULSA) was established in 2004 by the Scottish Funding Council and 6 Scottish Universities to encourage researchers across Scottish higher education to pool resources and collaborate in order to increase international competition.
Now, as a strategic partnership of 12 universities and 1 research institution, SULSA acts as a gateway into the connected and vibrant life sciences research community in Scotland and supports equal access for career progression and collaborative research opportunities across our member institutions.
Throughout our history, SULSA has:
- Funded PhD Studentships and Faculty Positions
- Funded the establishment of facilities such as BioCity (Glasgow), the Phenotypic Screening Centre (Dundee), and enhanced Microscopy Facilities in five universities
- Leveraged money from industry
- Awarded funding from the UK and Scottish Government to coordinate skills training needed at a national level to accelerate the flow of talent into our life sciences sector
In the last 2-years alone, we’ve run 10 funding calls supporting more than 85 researchers in Scottish universities. We’ve led and supported over 30 events in a range of areas including knowledge exchange, careers and recruitment, skills training, networking, scientific symposia, and Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity.
As we move into the next generation of SULSA, fully financed by our university members, we have much more in store. Please visit our Activity Planner to see our flagship events and funding calls.
What Do We Do?
At a fundamental level, SULSA runs a numbers of flagship programmes around networking, skills, and research that can be accessed by students, researchers, and staff within our 13 members.
Behind the scenes, the SULSA team:
- Work at a national and international level to find opportunities that will advance life sciences research and its application to solve real-world problems
- Lobby on behalf of life sciences in Scotland through Industry Leadership Group membership
- Advocate for skills and training through our Catalyst initiative and chairing of Skills Development Scotland’s Life and Chemical Sciences Skills Group
- Support early stage research and innovation in Scottish universities through our funding calls, international network building, and facilitation of cross-university consortia bids
- Aim to work inclusively across the life sciences and collaboratively with the wider ecosystem for the benefit of socioeconomic impact
SULSA is a gateway into the connected and vibrant life sciences research community in Scotland, a responsive platform from which to leverage investment, influence policy and create opportunities for our life sciences researchers.
Passionate about equal access to lifelong learning and promoting a diverse and inclusive research environment, we support the delivery of recommendations from the Researcher’s Development Concordat and are aligned with UKRI’s new deal for postgraduate students.
Our objectives are:
- Drive cross-university, multidiscipline and cross-sectoral collaboration in Scotland
- Improve equal access to opportunity for life scientists across our member universities in Scotland
- Increase the number of opportunities for life scientists, in particular ECRs, to progress in their career
- Drive investment in Life Sciences research in Scotland
- Promote the excellent research and innovation in life sciences to the rest of the world
Check out our impact infographic at the bottom of this page!
SULSA represents the entirety of the life science community, encompassing research on humans, plants, animals, and microbes. We have ambitious goals and aim to achieve these, in alignment with university strategies, under four key pillars:
International Network Building
With the UK’s exit from the Erasmus+ programme and involvement in Horizon still to be decided, it is more important than ever that we build sustainable partnerships internationally. SULSA is playing its role in supporting the mobility of researchers through:
- Saltire Emerging Researchers Scheme (co-funded by SULSA)
- International conference and networking event with universities in the Rheinland-Pfalz region of Germany
- Researcher exchanges to Rheinland-Pfalz (co-funded by the Scottish Government and das Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Gesundheit des Landes Rheinland-Pfalz)
- Development of student placements and research exchanges with École Nationale Supérieure de Technologie des Biomolécules de Bordeaux in France
Scotland’s life sciences industry is booming with an expectation that it will generate £8bn by 2025. This opens the doors for employment, collaboration, and commercialisation of university research. SULSA is supporting growth in this sector through:
- Advanced Therapies Skills Training Network (ATSTN) practical courses in Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) within industrial settings
- National Transition Training Fund (NTTF) offers upskilling and reskilling training courses for those looking to transition into life science careers
- Graduate Employability Masterclasses give students a taste of the industry lifecycle and raise awareness of opportunities available within life sciences
- Innovation Seed Funding supports establishing industry-academia research collaborations and commercialisation of academic research
Inter/Multidisciplinary Knowledge Exchange
With a number of global challenges threatening life as we know it, holistic and multidisciplinary approaches to finding solutions is imperative. SULSA works collaboratively with Research Pools in other disciplines and the Innovation Centres through Research Innovation Scotland and will continue to encourage interdisciplinarity through:
- Multidisciplinary networks to support our strategic themes on Infectious Disease, Novel Therapeutics and Vaccines, and Bioeconomy for Sustainability
- Facilitation of roundtables, sandpits, and networking events in response to cross-university collaborative bids
Inclusivity and Improved Research Culture
It has been proven that diverse and inclusive cultures are better prepared at decision-making, give companies a competitive edge, and foster innovations. And yet, we still have a long way to go to achieve goals like the Scottish Government’s target to have 20% of students entering higher education to come from Scotland’s most deprived areas. SULSA is working to foster inclusivity and improve research culture through:
- Member of the Scottish Funding Council’s Advisory Board on Supporting Scotland’s Postgraduate Researchers
- Breaking Barriers in STEM knowledge exchange events in 2020 and 2022
- Decolonising STEM working group (which organised the Decolonising the Curriculum event with Creative Tuition)
- Consulting on UKRI’s new deal for postgraduate students and EDI strategy
- Diversity in STEM colouring book and public engagement