Construction of the ambitious European Marine Science Park is underway at Oban in Argyll, where a turf-cutting ceremony was held to mark the occasion.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is investing £7.5m to create the first phase - which will take advantage of significant opportunities in marine science, marine biotechnology and renewable energy.
The 20,000 sq ft of office and laboratory space will support businesses in Scotland's growing Life Sciences and Energy sectors and has the potential to support up to 125 jobs.
The site of the development, Dunstaffnage near Oban, is already an internationally recognised centre of excellence for marine science, with the Scottish Marine Institute being home to the Scottish Association of Marine Science (SAMS), and the European Centre for Marine Biotechnology. These provide marine science research and education as well as incubation space for new and growing businesses.
Robertson, the infrastructure, support services and construction group, are now on site to begin work on phase one, which will provide a supportive atmosphere for businesses to continue to grow in a high-specification sustainable building, located in an outstanding marine environment.
Energy, Enterprise and Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said: "The Scottish Government and its enterprise agencies are working hard to retain Scotland's position as the most competitive environment for business in the UK.
"The £7.5 million European Marine Science Park will create a European Centre of excellence in marine science, research and development at Dunstaffnage, which will strengthen the local economy through attracting new jobs and investment to the area.
"I am delighted that work has started on phase one of this ambitious Highlands and Islands Enterprise project - this brings us another step closer to making this major infrastructure project a reality for this community and local businesses."
Douglas Cowan, Area Manager for HIE, said: "The European Marine Science Park is a landmark project for Argyll and is of national significance. It builds on our strong reputation in marine sciences and will lead to more businesses employing more people in high value jobs, creating greater prosperity for north Argyll and the wider area."
Andrew Cowan, Group CEO of Robertson said: "Robertson are delighted to be working in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise to deliver this significant infrastructure project for Argyll. We have considerable experience in delivering high profile public sector projects throughout Scotland and we are thrilled to add the European Marine Science Park to that prestigious list."
"As part of our commitment to local communities we have already held an open evening for the public and suppliers and we shall endeavour, where possible, to engage with the local supply chain."
SAMS Director, Professor Laurence Mee, commented: "With the success of the European Centre for Marine Biotechnology at SAMS we have demonstrated how the private sector can make innovative use of the scientific knowledge and unique natural assets available in Argyll. HIE's European Marine Science Park will build on this, allowing entrerpreneurs to spin out companies that will bring new jobs to the region and create a knowledge-based society that will resonate nationally and internationally. This is a fantastic development and a huge vote of confidence from HIE, the private sector and the Scottish Government."
In August 2010, the HIE Board approved an investment of £7.5m to create the first phase of the Science Park on the site next to SAMS at Dunstaffnage. HIE will contribute £4.5m of its own grant-in-aid budget from the Scottish Government, and has attracted the remaining £3m towards this first phase from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).