The President of Brammer Bio believes Scotland must find a way to retain foreign talent post-Brexit if it expects to be at the forefront of scientific discovery in the future.
Mark Bamforth – who is due to speak at next week’s Entrepreneurial Scotland conference at Gleneagles Hotel – had expected to work in the north-east oil and gas industry for his entire career until the 1986 oil crash saw him lose his job at Britoil.
Instead of trying to re-enter a struggling industry, Mr Bamforth decided to move to the US and diversify into biotechnology, where he would find success through pharmaceuticals and then gene therapy.
He founded Brammer Bio in 2015 and now serves as president and chief executive of a rapidly-growing group that now boasts a workforce of 360 people. As such, Mr Bamforth knows how it feels to be a foreign scientist in a foreign land and says he understands the value of talent, irrespective of origin.
“Keeping foreign talent is the food stock of companies continuing to grow,” Mr Bamforth said.
“After Brexit, I assume that a lot of European funding will dry up and this definitely has the potential to have a big impact.
“Scotland produces a lot of science graduates. I think that retaining talent is really important and that has to start by guaranteeing people the right to stay.”
Mr Bamforth sits on the board of Entrepreneurial Scotland and is a Saltire Foundation founding trustee. His connection to the Saltire Foundation, in particular, means he understands the importance of allowing talented scientists and students to work where they can learn and experience the most.
Each year the Saltire Foundation intern scheme takes 180 students in their final year from across Scotland and Europe and places them in internships across five continents.
“That’s one of the things that we kept talking about and was a catalyst for the creation of the Saltire Foundation.
“I’ve taken many into my company and it can be eye-opening for them and inspire their careers back in Scotland.
“We’ve seen some great success stories where people have gone on to run successful businesses in Scotland.
“There’s a great talent pool of Scottish and European students within the scheme.”
Mr Bamforth said he was concerned about how future events might impact all students, whether they are from the UK or not, claiming the full impact of Brexit on Scotland’s science and medical sector wouldn’t be known for another few years.
“People get sick irrespective of the economy. But Brexit will certainly have an impact.
“There’s a lag effect as projects mainly last for three years and there’s a continuous refreshing of new products.
“Long-term work provides stability to businesses so we need to safeguard talent.”
More details on the 2018 Entrepreneurial Scotland conference – which is being sponsored by Cazenove Capital and which The Courier, The Press & Journal and Energy Voice are supporting as co-media partners – is available by visiting www.entrepreneurialscotland.com.