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Scotland to produce lifesaving HIV technology

04/04/2013

An innovative US company Daktari Diagnostics Inc, which is developing blood monitoring technology that can help save lives worldwide, has confirmed its intent to locate its global manufacturing base in Inverness.

First Minister Alex Salmond will meet with Daktari in New York today (Thursday) as part of his Scotland Week programme aimed at encouraging inward investment.

The company has been in discussions with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Scottish Development International (SDI) about plans to locate the production of its groundbreaking technology in Scotland. 

A major factor in securing the deal was a meeting between the First Minister and Daktari representatives at the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart in Inverness last year.
 

 

Funding is in place  to create 126 jobs in the Highland capital, and the business's presence will build on the region's growing expertise in research, development and production in the life sciences sector.

Daktari, which currently employs 40 staff from its base in Cambridge, Massachusetts, develops diagnostic tests for global health conditions such as HIV, hepatitis, and tuberculosis.  The company plans to begin production of cartridges for handheld HIV monitoring devices as early as 2014.

The £12 million project is being supported by HIE and SDI with a £2.2 million public sector package for relocation and workforce training.

First Minister, Alex Salmond, said:

"Scotland has the most comprehensive national life sciences strategy in the world and the sector continues to go from strength to strength.  I am delighted to be meeting Daktari Chief Executive Bill Rodriguez as part of my Scotland Week programme and confirm that 126 high value jobs are coming to Inverness. Today's announcement  is the result of hard work by the Scottish Government and our agencies and builds upon the meeting I had with the company last year when they visited the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart.

"Daktari's intention to locate its manufacturing base in Scotland is testament to our increasing reputation as a growing life sciences community and as the ideal place to invest and do business.

"They have been attracted to the Highlands and Islands to join an internationally renowned cluster of activity, and add to a growing Scottish life sciences sector which is worth more than £3.1 billion to the economy annually.

"This much welcome decision by Daktari to base its production hub in the Inverness area is another example of how the quality and skills of the Highland workforce are being recognised by world-leading companies and reinforces Scotland's reputation for excellence in innovation and manufacturing.”

Daktari Diagnostics, which has been successful in attracting significant equity fundraising, is also expanding activities in the United States, Germany, and in key African countries. 

The Scottish venture could see mass production of blood testing cartridges required for CD4 cell counting, a process used in HIV monitoring, as early as next year. The system is currently undergoing clinical trials in Africa.

Bill Rodriguez, MD, President and CEO of Daktari Diagnostics Inc., commented:

“Daktari is excited about our new CD4 count, point-of-care, portable diagnostic product for HIV patients. Inverness, Scotland, offers companies like ours considerable support and a great location, with a highly educated work force and an ability to expand rapidly to support the demand for our new product.

“Designed to monitor patients in remote clinics anywhere in the world, the battery-powered Daktari CD4 counter provides the ease of use and low cost needed by many developing and emerging countries around the world. We believe Daktari is well positioned to capture significant market share in the coming years.”

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HIE, commented:

"The Highlands and Islands is proving to be an attractive location for innovative businesses involved in researching and developing healthcare technologies.

“We are delighted that Daktari has selected our region over a number of extremely competitive worldwide locations, including Singapore, the United States and Canada.

"Our region is now home to more than 80 life sciences organisations, including Scotland's largest life sciences business. The combination of natural assets, facilities, and a growing cluster of expertise is helping raise the international profile of the region in this fast moving sector.

"We look forward to continuing to work closely with Daktari in confirming a suitable site in or around Inverness in time for production to begin as soon as possible."

Anne MacColl, Chief Executive, Scottish Development International, said:

"We have worked closely with Daktari to support its move to Scotland where it will now join a thriving life sciences industry.  Working alongside our partners at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, we will continue to ensure global investors with mobile projects look to Scotland as an excellent location to realise their ambitious growth plans.”

Related information:

Daktari Diagnostics Inc, which currently employs 40 staff from its base in Cambridge, Massachusetts, develops devices for global health conditions such as HIV, hepatitis and tuberculosis. The company plans to begin production of cartridges for hand held HIV monitoring devices in Inverness in 2014.

The global market for CD4 testing is estimated at more than £990m annually.

Nearly 35 million people suffer from HIV across the globe, with 7,000 a day dying before they can access treatment.  With lifesaving drugs now available for less than $100 a year, the World Health Organisation has identified the lack of simple, portable diagnostic tests, specifically CD4 cell counts, as a major barrier to the control of HIV.

Daktari's Scottish venture would see mass production from next year of blood testing cartridges required for HIV monitoring that will help tackle the control of HIV across the globe enabling people to benefit from lifesaving treatment.

Scottish Development International (SDI) is a partnership between the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise which aims to raise the ambition of more Scottish businesses to trade and export globally and increase the global competitiveness of the business environment in Scotland.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise  (HIE) is the Scottish Government's economic and community development agency for the north and west of Scotland - a region which covers half of the country.