Businesses sought for new £12.5m Inverness innovation centre

BUSINESSES are being sought to take up residence in a new £12.5 million innovation centre being constructed in Inverness.

Muir Construction is leading the build of the Rural and Veterinary Innovation Centre (RAVIC) on behalf of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), which is leading and funding the project alongside support from the European Regional Development Fund and the Scottish Funding Council.

The centre will develop technologies and systems for Scotland’s land and marine-based sectors, including the green and blue economies of agriculture and aquaculture. It will bring together scientists, innovators, and businesses to create new products, services, and solutions to overcome sector challenges – including those posed by animal disease, climate change, and food security.

There will also be an emphasis on bioscience, including animal health, as RAVIC is to form part of Scotland’s new School of Veterinary Medicine. SRUC said that, as climate change continues to accelerate, the farming sector will be faced with ‘rapidly’ changing animal diseases and uncertain markets.

It added that RAVIC will provide a ‘much-needed’ research infrastructure to support the development of innovative systems and other practical tools to help Scottish farmers and land managers. RAVIC will work with SRUC’s Veterinary Surveillance Intelligence Unit, a recently developed Scottish livestock information system, that will provide new ways to help farmers deal with animal diseases, increase production efficiency and thereby reduce carbon emissions.

Located on Inverness Campus – a Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) development –  the RAVIC building will house several commercial business incubation units, a lecture theatre, wet and dry molecular, necropsy, and microbiology facilities, and a public atrium.

RAVIC director Professor George Gunn said, “The Highland innovation centre will help short circuit the gap that exists between science and business to unlock the true potential of Scotland’s blue and green economies to create high value jobs. The development reinforces SRUC’s commitment to expanding its regional presence in the area and it will also be an important addition to the existing range of expertise already on Inverness Campus.”

Elaine Jamieson, head of food and drink and life sciences at HIE, added, “We’re looking forward to working with SRUC and growing the culture of collaboration that exists across Inverness Campus. RAVIC will enable businesses to work alongside scientists and researchers to develop products and services that are aligned to industry challenges and needs, transforming food systems to ensure they become more sustainable, secure and efficient. The growth of entrepreneurial businesses and research capacity will contribute to the further development of two key sectors in the Highlands and Islands: life sciences and food and drink.”