A new facility which has the potential to support up to 1,300 jobs on site and create 940 new jobs across the Highlands and Islands over the next five years has been officially opened by Deputy First Minister John Swinney.
Inverness Campus developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is one of Scotland’s most innovative infrastructure projects, aimed at boosting the country’s enterprise credentials.
It will bring business, research and educational organisations together on the 215-acre site to support collaboration, knowledge transfer and build on the progress the area has already made in securing highly skilled jobs in recent years.
With investment in the Campus already approaching £100 million, it is expected to be one of the main drivers in the region’s economy. Part of the site has also been designated as a Life Sciences Enterprise Area. Promotion of the site to international investors by Scottish Development International has been made a key priority by the Deputy First Minister.
The official opening comes as Mr Swinney announced that Scotland’s Rural College has formally committed to the Campus, opening a state of the art Epidemiology Research Unit and facilities for its agricultural consultancy services within one of the new shared buildings.
Also on the site are 17 fully serviced plots with outline planning permission, offering a high quality, vibrant location for innovation, business development, collaboration and learning and set around two picturesque lochans. Discussions are at an advanced stage with a number of other commercial organisations.
Mr Swinney, who has chaired the Inverness Campus Partnership Forum for seven years, says the site is not only a major asset for the region but is of national significance.
“It goes without saying that the Campus project, an exemplar of collaborative working, will bring wide-ranging and substantial benefits to the Highlands and Islands and to Scotland as a whole. The benefits that will flow from the project are substantial in terms of economic, social, cultural and academic impact; in line with Scotland’s Economic Strategy.
“The location of this transformational project has undoubted strategic value for a new generation of Highland-based businesses, and I have asked our enterprise and international development agencies to investigate opportunities presented by it, not least in life sciences, and I am confident their focus will help fulfil the vision of the Campus as a place to inspire and attract business.
“Opening ceremonies often mark the conclusion of a project. This one is different: this, of course, only the first part of the Inverness Campus story.
“This is an outstanding facility which I believe will be a leading resource for enterprise and innovation, not only of benefit to the region, but to the entire country. The teamwork of everyone involved has helped make Inverness Campus a reality and I am sure this will continue in the years ahead.
“Given the combination of business, research and education all on the one site, international interest and investment will undoubtedly follow. The Scottish Government will work with our enterprise and international development agencies to promote this leading facility in the stunning location of the Highlands of Scotland.”
Alex Paterson, chief executive of HIE, emphasised the transformational potential of the Campus for generations to come. He said, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to create something unique for the region. It is a long-term project which will have an increasing impact over many years. For instance, the educational opportunities and new jobs at the Campus will encourage young people to stay in, or relocate to, the area, while the links between education, industry and academia will boost local businesses and make the Campus an attractive inward investment location.”
Janet Swadling, Acting Chief Executive and Principal of SRUC said, “SRUC is committed to serving rural businesses and communities, and working with our partners, in the north of Scotland and our excellent new facilities at the Inverness campus will greatly enhance our ability to do so.”