Inverness enterprise and research centre work starts

Building work has begun on a new enterprise and research centre at Inverness Campus.

The building will house a new collaboration between two of the region’s key strategic organisations. Economic and community development agency, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), and the University of the Highlands and Islands, are due to occupy the building from late 2015.

Architects Sheppard Robson designed the £11 million building which is being built by Morrison Construction.

HIE and the University of the Highlands and Islands will co-own the new building, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2015. Funding contributions for the development have come from the European Regional Development Fund, University of the Highlands and Islands, HIE and the Highland Council.

The collaborative model of the nearby Centre for Health Science was the inspiration behind the new building. Under the same roof, economic development specialists and university research teams will share facilities, knowledge and experience within a purpose-built facility.

The partnership will use digital technologies to promote the Highlands and Islands to potential investors and support higher and further education across the region and further afield.

Alex Paterson, chief executive of HIE, said: “Collaboration between business academia and economic development is at the heart of the Inverness Campus ethos. This innovative co-location project will strengthen the universities sector, broaden the region’s research base and provide a focus to attract new investment and jobs to all parts of the Highlands and Islands. Development of an innovative Digital Excellence Centre will enable us to raise awareness of the benefits of digital technology and drive the benefits from the £146m project HIE is leading to roll out next generation broadband across the Highlands and Islands.”

The University of the Highlands and Islands plans to locate several new research teams in the centre, creating new opportunities in addition to around 20 new jobs. Planned features include a life sciences postgraduate education facility; a learning and teaching academy, and specialised training and accreditation for the oil and gas industry.

Professor Clive Mulholland, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands said: “We are looking forward to the opportunities this joint facility brings and will undoubtedly stimulate in the future. Our university should have a transformational impact on the development and prospects of our region, its people and communities. To achieve that, we must be integrated into the fabric of centres of potential economic growth such as this fantastic new campus.”

In addition to HIE staff, a number of the organisation’s partners, including the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service, Interface and Scottish Development International, will also be based at the Centre. It is expected that the centre will also include Scotland’s Rural College research and consultancy services activity; a facility for the promotion and development of science, technology and engineering skills to young people throughout the Highlands and Islands region and a digital technology demonstration centre.

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