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£9m contract awarded for major new development on Inverness Campus

Published: 22/06/2021

Work is set to get underway on a major new development on Inverness Campus that has the potential to attract highly skilled jobs to the Highlands.

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Images courtesy of Austin-Smith: Lord

Following an open public tender process, Robertson Construction Northern has been awarded a £9m contract to build a 2500m² life sciences innovation centre, which was designed by specialist firm Austin-Smith: Lord.

The centre is a partnership project between Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the University of the Highlands and Islands. It has benefited from funding from both the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal and the European Regional Development Fund.

It will provide accommodation where businesses can work collaboratively with academia on innovative life science projects. It will provide access to high-tech research equipment and lab conditions for collaborative research.

It will also form part of a wider project with NHS Highland, which is currently developing an elective care facility on the Campus. Together this is forecast to create around 190 jobs.

Ruaraidh MacNeil, HIE’s director of business infrastructure, said:

“We are very pleased to announce this contract award for another major development on Inverness Campus. The life sciences innovation centre will create new commercial opportunities and high value career options, with benefits extending across the Highlands and Islands. It will also support the continued growth of the University of the Highlands and Islands through new innovation and research opportunities.

“The adjacent NHS Highland facility, meanwhile, will improve the health outcomes and patient experience. All of this will help attract and retain new talent for the region.”

Professor Todd Walker, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands, said:

“We are delighted that the construction contract has been awarded for this collaborative venture. 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.”

Frank Reid, regional managing director, Robertson Construction Northern, said:

“Our relationship with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) spans over many years and it is with great pleasure that we will now undertake our fourth project at the University.  

“We are proud to once again be selected as the delivery partner of choice and further enhance the offering at Inverness campus through this new high-quality facility.”

The new life sciences innovation centre has benefited from £3.75m of part-funding by the European Regional Development Fund European Structural Funds Programme 2014-2020.

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.

Cllr Trish Robertson, chair of the economy and infrastructure committee at The Highland Council, said:

“The Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal has supported this project as it has potential to attract high skilled jobs to the Inverness area and help retain qualified young people in Highland.

“The ability to retain young talent is particularly crucial as the region continues to recover from the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The centre will also attract further investment in Inverness and create new jobs in the north.”

UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said:  

"The Life Sciences Innovation Centre will bring new jobs and opportunities to the region by creating a space for businesses and UHI scientists to collaborate.

"By supporting innovation in life sciences we are also ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of medical technology and techniques, meaning we can all receive the best care through our NHS.

"The UK Government is investing more than £1.5bn into City Region and Growth Deals across Scotland, helping communities to build back better from the pandemic."

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