Last night, at a glittering award ceremony in Edinburgh, Dr John March, founder and chief executive officer of vaccine development company Big DNA, based in Roslin Biocentre, won a prestigious Spirit of Scotland Award from whisky giant Glenfiddich. The award in the business category was presented by Scotsman newspaper editor John McLellan. The awards, now in their thirteenth year, were established by the independent family owned single malt whisky brand, to recognise individuals who lead the way in various aspects of Scottish culture. The nominees are selected by a consulting panel, but the final winners are chosen by public vote.
Elizabeth Lafferty from Glenfiddich said: “The pioneering spirit shown by all of this year’s winners is amazing. Under John’s stewardship Big DNA has secured a multi-million pound investment to enable the company to develop its products towards commercialisation and established itself as one of the best new life sciences businesses in Scotland. I am delighted for John and his team.”
John was in good company, alongside singer songwriter Paolo Nutini who won the music category, and Doctor Who actress Karen Gillan who was nominated in the screen category. The other nominees in the Business category were Dougal Sharp – Innis & Gunn, Dr Rabinder Buttar – ClinTec and Sir Bill Gammell – Cairn Energy.
It’s been a terrific year for John’s company Big DNA, which was highlighted in the press at the beginning of the year as “one to watch” in 2010. Big DNA went on to win Best New Life Sciences Firm Award from Scottish Enterprise in February. The firm raised a further £2m of investment to support the development of vaccine technology in the spring.
Receiving a Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award is a much sought-after tribute. Last year votes were cast in their thousands for winners who included singer Susan Boyle, actor Peter Capaldi, author Ian Rankin and world-record breaking shinty player Ronald Ross.