A £7million centre of excellence and innovation in veterinary science is being created at Inverness Campus.
Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) have made a successful bid for £4m of European funding to go ahead and create the new data-driven centre.
New technology and big-data will be used to research livestock, wildlife, marine mammals and aquaculture health.
Researchers will collaborate with NHS Highland to examine links with human health.
The rural veterinary centre will also create and support the development of new businesses, products and services.
The centre’s aim is to help grow Inverness’s international reputation in epidemiology – the study of the incidence, distribution, and control of diseases – and it is expected to create a number of new high-value jobs in the region.
Professor George Gunn, head of veterinary epidemiology, said: “The emphasis of the Rural Veterinary Hub will be on practical science – pooling expertise from a range of institutions – to build commercial opportunities.
“The initial focus will be on the Highlands and Islands but the work will be applicable to rural businesses and communities across Scotland and internationally.
“The Rural Veterinary Hub has been under development for several years and I would like to thank Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Scottish Government for their ongoing support.
“We’re looking forward to working closely with HIE to create this exciting new development.”
Minister for Rural Affairs Mairi Gougeon said: “Thanks to significant support from the European Regional Development Fund and the efforts of SRUC and HIE, Scotland will benefit from a new veterinary centre of excellence which will create jobs, generate opportunities for small businesses in the animal health sector, and ultimately help us to continue to maintain the highest levels of animal health and welfare standards.”
Ruaraidh McNeil, HIE project director at Inverness Campus, said: “This is an important milestone in the move towards the next stage of development at Inverness Campus.
“Activity at the SRUC hub will be a great example of the Campus ethos of collaboration between business, research and education in life sciences.”
Professor Caroline Argo, Dean of SRUC’s Northern Faculty, added: “A project like this is about more than the buildings – the network of specialist researchers, universities, colleges, start-up businesses and support organisations in Inverness creates the perfect conditions for this high-tech hub to flourish.”
The European Regional Development Fund Scotland Programme 2014-2020 has awarded £4.1million to part-fund the development of a new Rural Veterinary Hub within SRUC’s Northern Faculty.
The new building will be located on Inverness Campus which has been developed by HIE.
SRUC has committed an additional £2.8 million to the £7 million project.