More than 500 new jobs are to be created across Scotland as part of plans to establish a global health research, development and manufacturing base.
Life sciences giant LumiraDx has announced a £78 million investment in its current Scottish operations, which could eventually lead to up to 750 jobs over the next three years.
Supported by a £15 million grant from Scottish Enterprise, the posts will be located at sites in Inverness, Stirling and a new facility under construction at Eurocentral, near Glasgow.
The company’s rapid antigen test for coronavirus is currently being used by the NHS and the new jobs will scale-up manufacturing, as well as the development of a range of other ground-breaking tests.
The firm currently has a pipeline of 30 tests for conditions including blood clots, heart disease, and diabetes.
Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “This is a huge boost for our economy which shows the country is still very much open for business as we look to emerge from lockdown.
“Life sciences has been a cornerstone of our economy for many years and this announcement shows that the sector will continue to drive growth in the future and help in the fight against the pandemic.
“It also makes it clear that Scotland is an attractive location for global investors.
“The fact that hundreds of high-quality research jobs are being created shows that the company recognises the skills which exist in the country’s workforce.”
It is believed up to 20 jobs will come to Inverness over the next three years.
Stewart Nicol, chief executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is great news for Inverness and a strong endorsement of the capabilities and highly skilled workforce we have in the city in the life sciences sector.
“Developments such as this are really significant for the region as we grow our presence and global capability.”
In total, 510 new posts will be guaranteed across Scotland over the next three years as a result of the investment.
The firm is hopeful this could rise to more than 750 new posts if current market demand prevails.
Up to 80% of the healthcare products manufactured by the firm will be for the export market, including the USA, Europe, and Japan.
LumiraDx Chief Executive Ron Zwanziger said: “Implementing reliable Covid diagnostic testing programs, that provide rapid results with minimum false negatives, is critical to safely reopening the economy.
“We are pleased to contribute to Scotland’s health and economic growth, now and beyond the pandemic.
“We are also delighted to be increasing our footprint in Scotland and expanding the country’s life sciences industry.
“Next-generation point of care testing technology can help to transform healthcare systems.
“It is an exciting undertaking, and we know to do this quickly and to do it well we need the right infrastructure in place and access to incredible talent to drive this development. Scotland has both.
Scottish Enterprise interim Chief Executive Linda Hanna added: “LumiraDx is at the global cutting edge of next generation rapid diagnostic testing and this investment has the potential to be transformative for Scotland’s life sciences sector and wider economy.
“Over the last decade, we and our partners have steadfastly pursued an ambition to simultaneously create wealth whilst promoting health by nurturing a vibrant life sciences sector that thrives on academic excellence, exceptional skills and a strong and supportive business environment.
“It is those strengths that have helped secure LumiraDx’s investment in Scotland and we look forward to working with the company as it goes from strength to strength providing healthcare diagnostic solutions to communities around the world.”