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Life science students from all over Scotland descended on Glasgow Caledonia University (GCU) this week to celebrate the completion of their 12-week internships at some of Scotland’s most innovative science firms.

The Scottish Life Sciences Internship Programme started in 2014 with only seven interns. In 2017 it involved 33 students chosen from more than 1000 applications for the prestigious and paid places, and to-date 34 companies have benefitted from the extra resources and fresh perspectives provided by the students.

Despite this incredible growth and success, Ronnie Palin, Life Sciences Sector Manager at SDS, believes more can and still needs to be done.

“Scotland enjoys one of the largest life science clusters in Europe with more than 700 life sciences organisations employing more than 30,000 people. In a very short space of time, this programme has proven itself a real boon to some of those employers," he said.

“I would love to see the number of students and companies involved reach the 100 mark. It’s a personal aspiration shared by many, but the success to date of the scheme suggests there is demand for it, both from industry and the students. There is certainly scope to get the numbers up in 2018 and beyond.”


"In a very short space of time, this programme has proven itself a real boon to some of those employers"

Ronnie Palin, Life Sciences Sector Manager at SDS

Ronnie added that the programme was only possible thanks to true partnership working. “None of this would be possible if the University careers service AGCAS, the innovation centres, the universities, Scottish Enterprise and industry itself didn’t work together to make it happen. It just shows what can be achieved when you have a coalition of willing partners working to a common goal."

For further information about life sciences internships, please visit the ScotGrad website.

Students and employers involved in the 2017 programme shared their learning and experiences at the GCU event.


Zara Puckrin spent 12 weeks working with Reprocell, where she had responsibility for creating an extensive Q&A for the sales force, and managed an opening event involving the First Minster Nicola Sturgeon

“My time at Reprocell was invaluable. I learned so much about my strengths and weaknesses, gained real and relevant experience in the workplace, learned how important networking is, and made many new friends. I also realised that lab work isn’t for me, but other aspects of science work are, such as marketing.”


Gabriela Biel spent her time managing the organisation’s Impact Accelerator programme, planned and implemented post doctoral research activity, helped facilitate a visit by Chinese students and supported an antibody research project.

“It was great to see science from very different angles, as well as the various career paths that are now open to me. I developed new and useful IT and project management skills, and grew in confidence during my amazing time at IBioIC. I highly recommend this programme.”

PAL Technologies

Mature pharmacology student Craig Speirs would “recommend the programme to anyone” after he spent his three months helping his employer visualise fitness and health data, including being involved in an important poster for an esteemed international conference.

“It was a straightforward application, that I heard about through his careers service, and it provided a great opportunity to gain real life science experience. It was a relevant and paid opportunity which gave me a better appreciation of where I want to go.”

Fixed Phage

Lindsey Moffitt has a new found appreciation for the challenges small firms face after spending time at Fixed Phage. Here she had sole responsibility for a project to improve the shelf life of salad bags, as well as learning about new techniques such as DNA extraction and the purification of bacteriophage.

“I made great connections and learned valuable new skills to help my future university work as well as my future career, all while getting paid! I can’t recommend this internship programme highly enough.”

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