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Construction work begins on new life sciences building

Published: 04/08/2021

Inverness Campus sees work start on a new partnership project from HIE and UHI.

Robertson Construction Northern started work on a new development at Inverness Campus this week. The £9 million life sciences innovation centre is a partnership project between the University of the Highlands and Islands and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Designed by Austin-Smith: Lord, the 2500m² building will provide facilities for businesses to work collaboratively with academia on innovative life science projects. It will provide access to high-tech research equipment and lab conditions for collaborative research, particularly in the fields of medical nanotechnology and active health.

The project has benefited from funding from both the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal and the European Regional Development Fund.

The centre will also support wider collaboration in research, innovation and commercialisation with NHS Highland, which is currently developing the National Treatment Centre Highland on the campus. Together, this is forecast to create around 190 jobs.

Professor Todd Walker, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands, said: "It is exciting to see the construction phase of this collaborative venture get underway. The development will increase our research in fields such as medical nanotechnology and active health and will help us to provide greater support to the region's life sciences sector. We hope to create a facility of national significance which will bring economic benefits to our region through innovation, commercialisation, company and job creation and the attraction and retention of talent."

Alistair Dodds CBE, chair of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: "This is a great milestone for Inverness Campus and for the region's life sciences sector. The commercial opportunities, high value career options and innovation and research initiatives that will stem from this development will have region-wide benefits. Importantly, it will help attract and retain talent and sustain populations, which of course is crucial to regional prosperity. I am delighted to see work get underway and very much look forward to seeing the new life sciences innovation centre take shape."

Frank Reid, regional managing director, Robertson Construction Northern, said: "Today's start onsite marks our fourth project at the university. Life sciences play a critical role in the health of the region and the nation, and none more so than in the last 18 months. We are proud to be the partner of choice to deliver another high-quality facility at Inverness Campus and look forward to continuing our relationship with the University of Highlands and Islands and Highlands and Islands Enterprise."

The new life sciences innovation centre has benefited from £4.96m of funding awarded by the European Regional Development Fund Scotland Programme 2014-2020. This is made up of ERDF awards of £1.2m to HIE and £3.76m to the University of the Highlands and Islands.

The University of the Highlands and Islands life sciences programme, including its element of the life sciences innovation centre, secured £9m from the UK Government through the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal, which is managed by The Highland Council. The Deal is a joint £315m initiative supported by both the UK and Scottish governments.