A Highland business park which provides office and laboratory facilities for marine science companies is set to be expanded in a £4.8million project that’s expected to lead to the creation of more than 30 jobs.
The expansion of the European Marine Science Park (EMSP), at Dunstaffnage, near Oban, is being funded by north development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
Opened less than a decade ago, it now houses 10 firms, including Norwegian-based fish health company PatoGen, which is planning to open a new laboratory there this summer.
HIE said the expansion of the EMSP would create opportunities for skills development and entrepreneurship, and boost Argyll’s reputation as a business location for inward investors.
Under the plans, almost £2m will be spent fitting out the ground floor of the park’s Malin House building, which is situated next to the headquarters of the Scottish Association of Marine Science.
Opened in 2012, with just the first floor fitted out as office space, the facility has been fully occupied for some time.
A further £2.77m will be used on groundworks, road development and car parking provision for three new buildings proposed for the park, one of which has already been granted planning permission.
Morag Goodfellow, HIE’s area manager for Argyll and the Islands, said: “The Highlands and Islands has an outstanding marine environment, with almost two-thirds of the UK’s coastline and coastal waters. This natural advantage has created a fitting home for world-class marine science, innovation and enterprise.
“It’s important the region benefits from emerging opportunities from the marine economy, which will help increase productivity and provide valuable rural jobs.”
Ms Goodfellow added: “The EMSP is right at the heart of that. These further investments at the park will support the sustainable growth of our marine industry and contribute to economic recovery.
“They will create opportunities in skills development and entrepreneurship, particularly for young people, and enhance confidence in Argyll as a business location for inward investors.”
Fish health and diagnostics firm PatoGen, which is headquartered in Alesund, opened its offices at the park three years ago as part of an expansion into the UK market.
Teresa Garzon, a key account manager at the company, said: “We are establishing a laboratory for our preventive and diagnostic services in Oban. PatoGen have been working in Scotland since 2014 and established our office at the EMSP campus in Oban in August 2018.
“Since PatoGen entered the Scottish market we have collaborated well with the fish farming companies, with steady increase in activity.
“The laboratory in Oban is planned to be operational during summer 2021.”
The contract for groundworks, road development and car parking has been awarded to Argyll firm TSL Contractors. Work is due to start this month and expected to be completed in July.
National cycle network organisation Sustrans is contributing to the cost of the groundworks, which will include an upgrade of Kirk Road to improve facilities for cyclists and pedestrians.