Major boost for life science industry in Highlands

The Highlands have a burgeoning life science industry. Picture: Highland Titles

The Highlands have a burgeoning life science industry. Picture: Highland Titles

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LIFE sciences in the Highlands and Islands continues to grow at a rapid speed with six new tenants – bringing with them 37 employees – unveiled today at the Centre for Health Science in Inverness.

More than 70 life science organisations operate in the region, with a combined turnover of around £194 million, and supporting nearly 1,800 full time equivalent jobs.

The life sciences sector represents a huge opportunity for the Highlands and Islands, for growth, for inward investment and for employment

Alex Paterson, HIE’s chief executive

The Centre for Health Science (CfHS) was developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to support the growth in the industry attract like-minded organisations under one roof to encourage research and commercial collaboration.

Alex Paterson, HIE’s chief executive said: “The life sciences sector represents a huge opportunity for the Highlands and Islands, for growth, for inward investment and for employment, and is a priority for us.

“We are delighted to welcome the new tenants to the Centre for Health Science. The Centre has a key role in fostering and facilitating collaboration between different organisations associated with the sector. This type of collaboration is crucial to our aspiration to see many more life sciences jobs by 2020.”

One of the new tenants at the Centre for Health Science is ASPIRENorth, which delivers the Scottish Funding Council’s Schools for Higher Education Programme in the North of Scotland. Their work links with the encouragement in schools of careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), which fits well with other activities in the centre.

Other new tenants at the centre are Pathfinder Accelerator, Technology Enabled Care, Robert Gordon University (RGU) and Craegmoor, while LifeScan has located its clinical team into the centre’s Highland Diabetes Institute (HDI).

With only one unit left available at the Centre for Health Science, the next natural development for growing academic and commercial life science activity is the nearby Inverness Campus; one of Scotland’s key priorities for inward investment. Parts of the 215-acre site are designated as an enterprise area for life sciences.

HIE is particularly keen to establish a strong research and development presence on the Campus by engaging with academics and companies in digital health technology, disease management and animal health right across the spectrum from small start-ups and local businesses to global companies.

Ruaraidh MacNeil, HIE’s project director for Inverness Campus, said: “We believe the campus is an extremely attractive and powerful proposition for global companies looking to expand their businesses. Inverness is a fast growing region with good connections nationally and internationally, a new and growing university, a ready supply of a skilled and educated workers and an unrivalled business support infrastructure.”

Completed in 2008, the centre now houses 14 organisations, including six universities.

It is occupied by more than 300 employees and is accessed by around 500 students.

The building is a state-of-the-art teaching, training, research and business development facility dedicated to health and life sciences. It includes business incubation space to accommodate spin-off activities and inward investment.

ASPIRENorth delivers the Scottish Funding Council’s Schools for Higher Education Programme in the North of Scotland. Their work links with the encouragement in schools of careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

The Pathfinder Acceleratornis a HIE initiative comprising a 12-week intensive programme that tests a business or team’s ideas using proven techniques that support entrepreneurship.

HIE is working with BioCity to provide coaching and mentorship, develop valuable business connections and attract key speakers and facilitators to share insights and key information about essential components for the commercialisation of innovative and scalable business ideas.

NHS Highland’s Technology Enabled Care Service aims to make full use of the Highland region’s new digital infrastructure, ultimately delivering transformative health and social care services at distance.

The service will substantially scale up the number of the number of people using Digital health in Highland, embedding routine technology use both within the NHS and the Highland community, enabling over two thousand new patients to benefit from its digital health initiatives by next April.

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