Work is poised to begin on a £9million project to create a major new development to create a new generation of skilled jobs in the Highlands.
The life sciences and innovation centre at Inverness Campus will be home to high-tech research equipment and lab conditions for specialist research.
The centre is a partnership between Highlands and Islands Enterprise and UHI but also forms part of a wider project with NHS Highland.
Centre will create ‘high value career options’
Once complete the new facility is expected to create about 190 new jobs in the Inverness area.
It is hoped the building will become a centre of “national significance” while bringing economic benefits to the north.
HIE has now confirmed Elgin-based Robertson Construction Northern has been awarded the contract to build the facility, which has been designed by specialist firm Austin-Smith: Lord.
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 UHI 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 Todd Walker said: “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.”
Facility will retain young talent in north
The new centre has received funding from the UK Government through the Inverness and Highlands City-Region Deal, which was agreed in 2017.
Meanwhile, it has also secured £3.75million from the European Regional Development Fund.
Trish Robertson, chairwoman of Highland Council’s economy and infrastructure committee, said: “The City-Region Deal has supported this project as it has potential to attract high skilled jobs to the Inverness area and help retain qualified young people in Highland.
“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.
Frank Reid, regional managing director of Robertson Construction Northern, said: “Our relationship with HIE spans many years and it is with great pleasure that we will now undertake our fourth project at the university.
“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.”