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Life Sciences hub of national significance opens in Inverness

The capital of the Highlands and Islands has staked its claim to become one of the UK’s major Life Sciences hubs on Friday 15 May with the official opening of Inverness Campus by Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, John Swinney.  Developed by economic development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the 215 acre Campus has already attracted investment of almost £100m.

Inverness Campus is hailed as one of Scotland’s most innovative infrastructure projects and has been awarded Enterprise Area status for Life Sciences by the Scottish Government.  Benefits of this status include a streamlined planning process and rates relief.  

Inverness is one of the fastest-growing economic areas in the UK, recording the second highest growth rate in Scotland, just behind Aberdeen, at 4.1% year-on-year.  It already has a vibrant life sciences cluster involving major private and public sector employers such as Johnson & Johnson’s LifeScan Scotland Ltd and the Centre for Health Science.

The official opening comes as Mr Swinney also announced that Scotland’s Rural College has formally committed to locate onto the Campus, opening a state of the art Epidemiology Research Unit and facilities for its agricultural consultancy services within one of the new shared buildings.  

Inverness Campus aims to bring together business, health research and educational organisations to help foster collaborative working opportunities and build on the progress Inverness has already made in securing skilled jobs in these sectors.  

The first phase of the project will see the opening of a new building for Inverness College UHI, the creation of an Enterprise and Research Centre and a dedicated Life Science building with an initial 1,000sqm available for occupants later this year.  

Seventeen fully serviced plots, with outline planning permission, are set around two picturesque lochans on the site.  Discussions with a number of private sector organisations are at an advanced stage.  

It is expected to be one of the main drivers in the region’s economy  - with independent research estimating it has the potential to support up to 1,300 jobs on site and a create 940 new jobs across the Highlands and Islands over the next five years.  

The development is also a place for the wider community to enjoy, featuring over 30 acres of parkland which will be open to the public from Saturday 16 May.  

Mr Swinney, who also chairs the Inverness Campus Partnership Forum, says the site is not only a major asset for the Highlands but is of national significance. Mr Swinney, who has chaired the Inverness Campus Partnership Forum for 7 years, says the site is not only a major asset for the region but is of national significance.   

“It goes without saying that the Campus project, an exemplar of collaborative working, will bring wide-ranging and substantial benefits to the Highlands and Islands and to Scotland as a whole. The benefits that will flow from the project are substantial in terms of economic, social, cultural and academic impact; in line with Scotland’s Economic Strategy.  

“The location of this transformational project has undoubted strategic value for a new generation of Highland-based businesses, and I have asked our enterprise and international development agencies to investigate opportunities presented by it, not least in life sciences, and I am confident their focus will help fulfil the vision of the Campus as a place to inspire and attract business.  

“Opening ceremonies often mark the conclusion of a project. This one is different: this, of course, only the first part of the Inverness Campus story.  

“This is an outstanding facility which I believe will be a leading resource for enterprise and innovation, not only of benefit to the region, but to the entire country. The teamwork of everyone involved has helped make Inverness Campus a reality and I am sure this will continue in the years ahead.   

“Given the combination of business, research and education all on the one site, international interest and investment will undoubtedly follow. The Scottish Government will work with our enterprise and international development agencies to promote this leading facility in the stunning location of the Highlands of Scotland.”  

Highland and Islands Enterprise has committed £25m to develop the site and other partner organisations involved in its creation include the University of the Highlands and Islands, NHS Highland, the Highland Council and the Scottish Funding Council.  

Alex Paterson, chief executive of HIE, emphasised the transformational potential of the Campus for generations to come.  “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to create something unique for the region.  It is a long-term project which will have an increasing impact over many years.  For instance, the educational opportunities and new jobs at the Campus will encourage young people to stay in, or relocate to, the area, while the links between education, industry and academia will boost local businesses and make the Campus an attractive inward investment location.”  

Unique features of Inverness Campus include an open-air island gallery - An t-Eilean - and a ‘golden bridge’ linking the north of the Campus with the city.   

The natural beauty of the extensive grounds will make Inverness Campus one of the most attractive and advanced learning and business environments in Scotland. 

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