Life sciences has been identified as one of Scotland’s key economic sectors, says Patrick Wiggins
Efforts to regenerate Irvine Bay received a number of boosts during the past few weeks – with both the Scottish and UK governments making significant announcements that will have a positive impact.
Our area of North Ayrshire – which is made up of the five towns of Irvine, Saltcoats, Stevenston, Ardrossan and Kilwinning – benefits from the creation by the Scottish Government of an Enterprise Area in Irvine, i3.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently announced that 140 jobs have been created or supported in i3 in the first year since it was established in April 2012.
The new jobs have come from seven new businesses that have been established in Irvine’s Enterprise Area and the expansion of existing businesses.
The First Minister, Alex Salmond, visited Howco Group plc in Irvine – where 67 highly-skilled new jobs are being created in the Enterprise Area by the firm’s expansion plans and then made a major announcement of a £1.6 million funding package to support jobs and regeneration in the area – with most of it focused on the Enterprise Area itself.
The new package of funding will support investment and infrastructure improvements to encourage more business to i3 through:
• Work to open up our Strategic Investment Campus – this is currently one of the largest strategic investment sites in the north of the UK, extending to over 120 acres (50 hectares).
Just 40 minutes from Glasgow city centre and 30 minutes from the new South Glasgow Hospital campus, the site is served by excellent road and rail links and two international airports.
In addition to a range of existing fibre and utilities infrastructure, the site has over 35MVA of electricity immediately available through an existing substation and potential for up to 100MVA if required.
This site presents a unique opportunity for a large single user or sub-division into multiple development plots.
• The completion of the refurbishment of our building Innovation B. Telecommunications company, Oricom, has moved into the renovated ground floor of Innovation B office space at Cockburn Place, which extends to 5,300 sq ft, after they signed a 5 year lease with Irvine Bay. The additional funding will allow the refurbishment of the first floor of the building, and already Heads of Terms have been exchanged with a potential occupier.
• Work at our property at Oldhall, Shewalton Road. Irvine Bay has purchased the 110,000 sq ft of industrial space next to GlaxoSmithKline. This represents a real opportunity to provide much-needed space to the industrial market and attract business to this key strategic location.
In addition, work will be carried out to create needed new car parking in the Enterprise Area – a sign that things are going well.
In addition, the funds announced by the First Minister will allow us to install a big screen in the Bridgegate area of Irvine to celebrate events such as the Commonwealth Games and contribute to the continued regeneration of the town centre.
Further good news came from the UK government, through their announcement that Enterprise Area Capital Allowances – one of the key financial incentives offered to businesses locating in i3 – are being extended by three years to March 2020.
This will be very welcome news. It gives businesses considering major investment decisions more time to plan, and provides a very significant potential saving for longer. The announcement was made in the March budget. The Enterprise Area has a focus, although not an exclusive one, on the life sciences sector.
Life sciences has been identified as one of Scotland’s key economic sectors, with 600-plus organisations employing 32,000 people and adding more than £3 billion in added value to the economy every year. The Scottish Government’s aim is to see the sector double that turnover by 2020.
Edinburgh and Dundee have all developed clusters of expertise in the field, the Glasgow BioCorridor is putting the achievements of the west on the map and as part of the Glasgow BioCorridor initiative, we were in London recently at an event designed to encourage those involved in the sector to invest in the Glasgow area.
We were involved with a number of partners in the initiative, including Glasgow City Council, the University of Glasgow, and BioCity Scotland.
At the event, delegates heard about a range of projects including the South Glasgow Hospital, the Centre for Stratified Medicine, the newly-established Industrial Biotechnology Centre and the development opportunities at i3.
• Patrick Wiggins is chief executive of the Irvine Bay Regeneration Company