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Multi-million-pound science building designed to secure jobs for generations at risk

Artists impression of the building.
Artists impression of the building.

A £40 million project designed to provide jobs for future generations could fall through over mounting costs.

The Bio Therapeutics Hub at the Foresterhill Health Campus, close to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, has been planned to double the size of the life sciences industry in the region.

The 69,000 square foot development is to contain space for established companies, start-ups, and more – as well as facilities for events, conferences and networking.

It promised to bring together “world-leading expertise and “enable the growth of the life sciences industry for decades to come”.

Economic development body Opportunity North East (One) has collaborated with Aberdeen University, Robert Gordon University, NHS Grampian and Scottish Enterprise to mastermind the venture.

And it has been backed with £20million of capital funding from the UK and Scottish Governments through the Aberdeen City Region Deal.

Once plans were approved, work was planned to begin in April before construction had to be delayed due to the coronavirus crisis.

Last month, Professor Stephen Logan, chairman of One’s life sciences sector board and BioAberdeen Ltd, said it was still on course to open by the end of next year.

However a new report, to be presented to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire councillors tomorrow, reveals it could be in jeopardy.

The report states: “The BioHub is reporting significant risks if construction work does not start this year as planned.

“As well as a delay, there could be potential increase in overall project costs and a detrimental impact on benefits, including providing a much-needed space for the region’s life science businesses.”

To make the plans a reality, bosses need to secure additional funding sources and “require certainty around funding being available in future years when required to meet construction payments”.

One was established to diversify the north-east economy away from a dependency on oil and gas.

 

Picture from the Signing ceremony of the £250 million Aberdeen City Regional Deal in 2016

The Aberdeen City Region Deal Joint Committee will meet on Friday to discuss the BioHub report with council leaders, Professor Logan and Sir Ian Wood all expected to attend.

A spokesman from One said: “The project is at a critical stage of delivery with construction due to start this year.

“The Aberdeen City Region Deal (ACRD) partners are asked to approve a project fund for 2021/22 to allow construction to start.

“The priority for the partners is to ensure that this critical project for the life sciences sector is delivered to programme, and enables the growth of innovative companies in the region, anchoring high-value economic activity and employment for the long term.”

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