Facility approved

SMEs invited to sign up for innovation centre

Proposed Rural and Veterinary Innovation Centre in Inverness (pic: Threesixty Architecture)

Smaller companies operating in animal biotechnology are being offered an opportunity to become partners in a new innovation centre.

Highlands Council has approved plans for the £11 million Rural and Veterinary Innovation Centre in Inverness which is expected to help to increase life sciences activity in the region.

Work is due to start on the Inverness Campus of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) within weeks following the appointment of Fife-based Muir Construction as the main contractor.

The centre will offer new and existing SMEs development laboratories and business facilities. They will also have access to expertise and the burgeoning life sciences community in Inverness.

It will also be the home of SRUC’s research, with SRUC Veterinary Services and SAC Consulting – part of SRUC – based in the building.

The site will support the development of the new SRUC Veterinary School which will be based across the country. 

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SRUC has worked closely with campus owner, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and the project has received £6m from the European Regional Development Fund Scotland Programme as well as a £4.2m loan from the Scottish Funding Council.

The design was undertaken by Inverness-based Threesixty Architecture and the build is being project-managed by Currie & Brown.

Professor Wayne Powell, principal and chief executive of SRUC, said: “The Rural and Veterinary Innovation Centre will be an important addition to expanding the biotech community in Inverness. The new centre will grow jobs and the economy.

“With a heightened awareness of the link between human and animal epidemiology, this new initiative is at the right time and in the right place.”

Ruaraidh MacNeil, director of business infrastructure, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “This is very welcome news both for SRUC and Inverness Campus, which is now making a significant contribution to growing the region’s life sciences sector.  

“SRUC is a leading player in rural and veterinary education and we are delighted that Inverness has been chosen for this exciting new development.

“The new innovation centre will make a valuable addition to the broad range of scientific and medical expertise that is becoming established here and creating high quality jobs, and research opportunities. It will also offer new location options for animal health companies wishing to work alongside veterinary experts.”

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) was established in 2012 through the merger of the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) with Barony, Elmwood and Oatridge Colleges.

It aims to become Scotland’s enterprise university at the heart of our sustainable natural economy. 

IBioIC exceeding targets

Scotland’s biotech community is exceeding growth expectations and is on track to achieve annual turnover of £1.2bn by 2025, according to a refreshed strategy launched at the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre’s (IBioIC) annual conference today.

The updated National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology outlines new ambitions for Scotland’s bioeconomy, including reaching a target of 220 companies operating in the sector and more than 4,000 employees by 2025.

Updates to the figures follow analysis from IBioIC that showed businesses active in industrial biotechnology accounted for more than £790 million in turnover during 2020, increasing from £189 million in 2012 – prior to the launch of the first iteration of the strategy and the formation of the innovation centre. Initial targets of the National Plan were set at £900m turnover and 2,500 employees by 2025.

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