Inverness is to be the new home for all diabetes research and development into blood glucose monitoring carried out worldwide by international company LifeScan.
The £11 million project - including up to £2.8 million public investment - creates 19 new high-value jobs and anchors 1,100 others at LifeScan Scotland, which is already Scotland's largest life sciences company.
First Minister Alex Salmond made the announcement today during a visit to the North American commercial headquarters of LifeScan in Milpitas, California and with a live link-up to the company's Inverness research and development centre.
LifeScan is a world leader in blood glucose monitoring and already employs around 1,100 staff in Inverness - making it one of the biggest private employers in the Highlands and Islands. LifeScan's main product range includes the OneTouch® blood glucose monitoring products and the company intends to continue to develop advanced solutions to meet the needs of people with diabetes.
Speaking during his trade mission to the US, the First Minister said:
"This is a memorable day for life sciences in Scotland. We are aleady at the forefront of diabetes research and this commitment to LifeScan in Inverness is a further demonstration of the fact that this Highlands base will continue to be a leader in cutting-edge research.
"The research and development money will create new highly-skilled, well-paid jobs and will build on Scotland's reputation for supporting economic growth and innovation."
Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HIE, said:
"Millions of people across the world rely on the products developed by LifeScan in Inverness. HIE is delighted to have worked with the company over many years as it has developed its research hub in the region.
"The decision to have the diabetes research and development effort in our region, attracting staff from across the world, is a resounding vote of confidence in our capabilities in the life sciences sector."
Tito Bacarese-Hamilton, R&D Vice President of LifeScan for Blood Glucose Monitoring, underlined the company's commitment to the Highlands and Islands. He said:
"We are enormously grateful for this grant, which builds on the strong partnership that we already have with Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
It will allow us to get innovation to the market place sooner and also contribute further to the prosperity of the Highlands."
The First Minister is on a four-day visit to the US to strengthen economic and tourism links.
LifeScan is a Johnson & Johnson company. LifeScan Scotland was created in 2001 when Johnson & Johnson acquired the UK assets of Inverness Medical Ltd, a medical device company established in Inverness in 1995 to design and manufacture glucose test strips and design electronic meters for the global diabetes market.
The company has become a global leader in designing and manufacturing glucose test strips and electronic meters for monitoring diabetes, and has developed diabetes management software, control solutions and lancing devices.
With diabetes now one of the world's fastest-growing medical conditions, LifeScan Scotland is committed to leading the field in researching and developing new products for its customers. The presence of LifeScan Scotland in Inverness has stimulated a cluster of expertise in clinical diagnostics, leading to the creation of the Highland Diabetes Institute and other spin-off companies.