HM Insights

The growing importance of life sciences to the Highlands and Islands

The development of a new £9 million life sciences centre located on the Inverness UHI campus is set to get under way, further to an open public tender process.

This announcement provides yet another boost to the life sciences sector in the Highlands and Islands, and signals the significant potential for the area to become a hub for the development of life sciences.

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Life Sciences Centre for Innovation

The new project, which is being overseen through partnership between Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the University of the Highlands and Islands, has benefited from funding from both the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) (which has now been replaced with the UK Shared Prosperity Fund following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU). 

It is thought that the project, which is part of a wider project with NHS Highland, will attract highly skilled jobs to the Highlands, potentially creating 190 new positions.  

B2HC – Business to Healthcare and the Nexus NHS Programme

The new life sciences centre is not alone in driving development in life sciences in the Highlands and Islands region. Created as part of a joint initiative between Highland Council, HIE and the University of the Highlands and Islands, Business to Healthcare is a support programme designed to deliver accelerated business innovation in the Highlands and Islands region. 

The programme, which again receives funding from the ERDF, is delivered by the Northern Innovation Hub and acts as a gateway between businesses and the NHS and wider health care sector. It aims to support businesses based in the Highlands and Islands looking to expand elsewhere and businesses based elsewhere who are looking to expand into the area.

Another initiative is the NHS Nexus programme, which encourages innovation within the NHS in relation to a range of issues, both clinical and non-clinical. 

The Highlands and Islands have unique healthcare challenges, given the geography of the area and the remoteness of many communities. This in turn presents huge opportunities for businesses with innovative ideas and there is plenty of support for such projects.  In a post-Covid world, remote provision of healthcare is likely to be an area of significant growth, with associated emphasis on connectivity and digital systems. 

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