Three organisations from across the Highlands and Islands have teamed up in a new collaboration to boost life sciences in the region.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the University of the Highlands and Islands, and NHS Highland have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) as they progress joint initiatives on Inverness Campus.
The new project builds on previous successful developments, such as the Centre for Health Science, which has shown the regional benefits of joined up working.
The collaboration involves three linked buildings which will include a planned elective care centre for the north of Scotland and a research and innovation facility to support the growth of the university’s region-wide School of Health, Social Care and Life sciences.
Also included is collaboration with HIE, to provide advance commercial space to ensure the benefits of the collaboration are commercialised and attract new life sciences businesses to the region.
Led by NHS Highland, the £27m elective care centre recently received agreement from the Scottish Government’s Capital Investment Group to take its business case to the next stage for investment. It is hoped the centre will open in 2021, with 30 beds, three theatres and day case and outpatient facilities.
The University of the Highlands and Islands meanwhile has been allocated £9m through the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal to establish a centre for excellence in innovation and commercialisation as part of its School of Health, Social Care and Life Sciences.
This will include opportunities, also supported by a £4m investment from HIE, for postdoctoral clinical studies for healthcare staff, specialist support for research commercialisation and development of collaborative research teams.
These teams will focus on key regional themes such as remote and rural health, digital health and diabetes, in which the University of the Highlands and Islands is already internationally renowned.
The MoU signing was witnessed by Shirley-Anne Somerville, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, who said:
“This is another positive example of collaborative working in the region which will help bring a range of economic, social, cultural and academic benefits to people across the Highlands, including exciting research opportunities and access to a state of the art care centre.
“Life sciences is a hugely significant industry for Scotland as a whole, with around 700 organisations employing over 37,000 people across the country, and I very much welcome the approach being taken by partners at Inverness Campus to drive forward developments in this area. I look forward to seeing the progress of the project.”
UK Government Minister, Lord Duncan, said:
“This collaboration shows once again that UK Government investment through the City Region Deal, will make a tangible difference to people living in the region and I am delighted that the UK Government is playing its part in supporting innovation, and working with Inverness Campus.”
Inverness Campus has been established by HIE as centre of collaboration between enterprise, education and research.