This August, Scotland-based writer Stuart Delves caught up with Dr Robert England, Founder of UP for LIFE, to find out what the specialist agency, renowned for its solid research, scientific prowess and creative pizzazz, could offer science and technology businesses large and small in the Middle East.
The brave new world of bio-fuels
Robert, firstly, what’s exciting right now about the Middle East in the context of life science and technology?
The inevitable move in the Middle East, along with Israel, from a non-sustainable fossil fuel based economy to a more sustainable economy represents a huge shift. As a result scientific and technological innovation is flourishing and this offers amazing opportunities to promote new products, and attract investment and talent. There are many professionals now in the Middle East jumping ship and re-training, moving from oil exploration technology into sustainability initiatives.
How can the region, with this new sustainability agenda, strive to lead in the sector?
Undoubtedly life science is high on the political agenda. But to lead in this area there’s a need to attract talent. Scientists, of course, have always been willing to travel to collaborate, and today, collaborative working and co-design is supported by online channels, the cloud and VR. But there’s a need to convey what’s compelling about the opportunity in this region.
And UP for LIFE can help with this?
Yes. More on that to come. Part of what is attractive about innovation in the Middle East is that the more streamlined political regimes can accelerate not only innovation but also implementation, especially when authority is combined with a progressive vision. Look at the region’s stunning architecture for example. Underpinned by rapid urbanisation and expanded infrastructure. There’s a fantastic combination of imagination and practicality. Progress happens fast. Acceleration is encouraged.
UP for LIFE Vision: Empowering science to transform the world for good
OK. UP for LIFE has a noble vision. And a belief in the overarching drive of science to better the world and the human condition. But why should a business, whether start-up or well established, whose focus is on say medical devices, healthcare, genomics, drug discovery – let alone bio-fuels - consider UP for LIFE to help attract investment or talent? To help get its message out there to the world? How can, how do you ‘empower’ science? And technology?
We empower it by representing it as well as is possible. We give it wings to fly. There are four key pillars to our offer, to what sets us apart.
- Our long-standing, proven cloud-based agency model with access to global talent along with local land-based hubs in key geographic locations
- Our deep understanding of our clients’ business and their markets through a combination of our own scientific credentials, taking the time to deep dive, and UP Lab our dedicated research powerhouse
- Our unique working model where our creatives work in harness with specially recruited in-house science consultants, all of whom have a PhD in a major science discipline
- Our 11 year track record, establishing an agency in the cloud in 2011, making us pioneers and trail-blazers, way before the COVID pandemic
UP for LIFE Mission: To collaborate with impactful and innovative organisations, to help them realise their vision, discover insights, develop their strategy, their identity, their voice and their presence
Let’s check out these pillars in a little more detail. So, you are an agency but you work in the cloud?
Yes, from day one we set up an agency with account managers, strategists, planners, art directors and copywriters, digital specialists but all spread across the world. This model means we can recruit top talent, wherever they happen to live. You can work anywhere in the world and work for UP. At the same time we do have physical creative hubs, with an HQ in Sweden and hubs in London, New York, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Zug Switzerland, among several others.
And somewhere in the Middle East?
Our creative hub in the region is based in Dubai where we have a handful of multi-lingual people on the ground and a welcoming space for key client meetings. On-going meetings tend to take place online.
As well as access to talent there must be other benefits? Cost benefits for instance?
Yes. No big overheads, a flat organisation and no office politics. The first point means we can offer competitive pricing and the second two mean we all put energy into serving the client not serving our own individual ends.
Could you say more about Pillar 2 – a deep understanding of your clients’ business and their markets?
We help promote meaningful products and are committed to deeply understanding our clients’ business. We too are scientists, who harness the magic of our creative colleagues in the belief that marketing can lead and develop a business by reaching and addressing the target audience – talent, investment or customers - in exactly the right way. Being scientists and sector-focused we’re in for the long term and building long-term relationships. This deep understanding and commitment builds trust.
Supporting this we have a tried and tested approach to every project called BASE-UP. It’s very thorough. Very effective. And completely transparent. It ensures that our clients know exactly where they are in the process and that we check in regularly with them so that they can make sure we’re on track. We also have a brilliant resource in UP Lab, our research model, which can provide invaluable input that allows us to create the right message. Recently we had a client…
Listen to Dr England (3 minutes) talk more about how insights from UP Lab obtained global market research from 12 key regions around the world that helped challenge assumptions and provide the right messaging for safety in blood drawing.
Also listen to Dr England (2 minutes) give an example of how sometimes, especially in the case of start-ups, UP for LIFE consultant scientists have more competence and understanding of an area of science than a company’s marketing and communications colleagues. In this case, radio therapy.
“Because we’re global we’re culturally sensitive to the different moods and nuances of different regions.”
Robert, UP for LIFE works on a classic agency model with account managers or client services people, strategists, planners, digital experts, researchers, but at the heart of communications sits the message. Everyone wants their message to stand out, attract and engage and stick in the mind. For the scientist this message has to be right. But I’d contend that it also has to be bright and that elegance and wit have a big part to play in this. How doe UP for LIFE achieve this?
Essentially by creatives – art directors, copywriters and filmmakers – working in harmony with our life science consultants. The key is that the science consultants that we recruit are not simply science consultants, they are people with an appreciation of good design and language. Equally the creatives that work for UP for LIFE are inquisitive people, curious about the world and the science that is transforming medicine, healthcare, technology and energy production. I always say that the scientist is not just a consumer of science but also a consumer of culture and that the true creative is interested in everything. It’s this rich collaboration that enables us to create not just accurate communications but inspiring communications.
Listen to Robert and Stuart talk more about how magic happens (2.5 minutes) from this interplay of skills and also the importance of wit (1 minute) in science communications.
Finally Robert, you’ve worked with some of the biggest names in the business over the last 11 years haven’t you?
Indeed, we work with such powerhouses as GE Healthcare, AstraZeneca and Bayer, building brand, providing in-bound content, promoting products. Equally our agency model allows us to scale accordingly so that we can and do work with smaller start-ups. Often these are the life-blood of the sector and we’re keen to be involved and we can bring the knowledge we have gained from working with bigger clients to benefit smaller ones.
And, I suppose, with 11 years familiarity everyone at UP for LIFE is at ease in the cloud?
Yes. We’re very relaxed online. It’s home for us and we make our clients feel at home. There’s time to get to know each other, reflect, be silent – essential in all business relationships. It’s our silver lining.
Standout messaging built on research
Check out some examples of UP for LIFE’s branding work where the opportunity to tell stories reaches its full potential.
If you’re interested in finding out more about UP for LIFE, contact Asra Eftekhari at our Dubai Creative Hub.