A £9million contract to build a new life sciences innovation centre in the Highland capital has been awarded to Robertson Construction Northern.
The joint development by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), on Inverness Campus, is expected to contribute to the creation of almost 200 jobs.
HIE said the 27,000 sq ft facility, which will include advanced equipment and laboratories, will enable businesses to “work collaboratively with academia on innovative life sciences projects.”
It will form part of a wider project with NHS Highland, which is building an elective care centre nearby, and it has been forecast the two developments will create a total of around 190 jobs.
Ruaraidh MacNeil, HIE’s director of business infrastructure, said: “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.”
UHI principal and vice-chancellor, Professor Todd Walker, added: “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.”
It is the fourth construction project to be undertaken at the university by Elgin-headquartered Robertson Construction Northern.
The firm’s regional managing director, Frank Reid, said: “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.”
Part-funding of £3.75m for the new centre came from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) European Structural Funds Programme 2014-2020.
UHI’s life sciences programme, including its element of the development, secured £9m from the UK Government through the Inverness and £315m Highland City-Region Deal, which is managed by Highland Council.
Councillor Trish Robertson, chair of the council’s economy and infrastructure committee, said the project had the potential to attract high skilled jobs to the area and help retain qualified young people in the Highlands.
She added: “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.”
Plans for the new centre were first announced a year ago.