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£4.5m Life Sciences Building Opened on Inverness Campus

Sinead Donnelly

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New life sciences building opened on Inverness campus

‘Solasta House’, a £4.5m life sciences building was officially opened by Deputy First Minister Mr John Swinney at Inverness Campus yesterday.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is developing the campus as a nationally and internationally outstanding location for business, research and education.

HIE commissioned Robertson Northern Limited to construct 2460m2  laboratory and office space in response to a plethora of business enquiries.

Solasta House boasts a flexible space for the latest, evolving technology and life sciences companies. It already features eight businesses and it is estimated to be 75% full by mid-summer.

The development has received £1.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with the remainder of the funding coming from HIE.

A business showcase emphasising activity in the region’s life sciences companies was held at Solasta House and Mr Swinney gained an insight into the innovative collaboration, research and development activities being carried out.

Mr Swinney was also introduced to companies from the NEXUS co-working space, some of which have relocated to the larger Solasta House from nearby Aurora House. The NEXUS project provides shared workspace and opportunities to work alongside likeminded companies. The project is part of the Northern Innovation Hub, led by HIE, and funded by the Inverness and Highland Region City Deal and ERDF.

The companies using the NEXUS space are CorporateHealth International, 4c Engineering, Aseptium, Organlike, Orbital Diagnostics, Capella IP, Interactive Health and AgileCadence.

Mr Swinney said: “It gives me great pleasure to open Solasta House, which represents the latest stage of the development of the Inverness Campus and reaffirms our commitment to invest and grow the £5.2 billion Scottish life sciences sector.

He stated that Solasta House will also mark Inverness as a region home to “state-of-the-art facilities” which will support “company growth”. Mr Swinney also added that the new facility will “support the development of innovative products and services in health science and technology”.

The Inverness campus first opened its doors to the public in 2015 in order to support the expansion of Inverness’ life sciences sector. The campus is already home to several private and public-sector organisations including Scottish Vet Referrals, Aqua Pharma, Inverness College UHI, Scotland’s Rural College and the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Over 900 employees are based at the campus with this number predicted to increase to around 1300 in the coming years.

The development of a new hotel and a collaborative health facility containing an elective care centre, University of the Highlands and Islands’ life sciences innovation centre and a new life sciences business incubator owned by HIE are also on the cards for the campus.

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Commenting on the investment, Professor Lorne Crerar, Chair of HIE, said: “We have been developing Inverness Campus with a strong ethos of collaboration between commercial, research and education activities and an emphasis on life sciences.

“Of equal importance to us is that activities here should benefit communities and economies across the region.

“I am delighted that the Deputy First Minister has been able to see some examples of that today, as well as meeting some of the young people attracted to the region by the opportunities presented by the growth in life sciences and technology.

“The growth of activity here reflects the attraction of Inverness Campus to investors and businesses, as well as the continued growth in the life sciences sector in our region.”

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Frank Reid, Managing Director, Robertson Northern spoke about how the construction company were “proud” to be chosen as the primary contractors for the new build.

He said: “We are currently completing further fit out works to meet the specific requirements of businesses eager to move into the building.

“This is one of Scotland’s most pioneering developments and aside from the opportunities this will bring to the life sciences sector, it has also had a positive impact on the wider local community.”

The business showcase event also featured talks from key national and UK funders and support organisations including McKinsey, Innovate UK, Intel and the Satellite Applications Catapult.

Presentations from NEXUS businesses enabled guests to comprehend the breadth of innovation and development taking place at Solasta House.

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Sinead Donnelly

Journalist

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