Life sciences growth highlighted as Centre for Health Science fills up
The growth in life sciences in the Highlands and Islands will be marked at an event on Monday 7 December, which will also welcome six new tenants and 37 more people to the Centre for Health Science in Inverness.
The growth in life sciences is one of Scotland’s most exciting developments of recent years and a priority for the Highlands and Islands. More than 70 life science organisations operate in the region, with a combined turnover of around £194 million and supporting nearly 1,800 full time equivalent jobs.
The Centre for Health Science was developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to support the growth in life sciences, and attract like-minded organisations under one roof to encourage research and commercial collaboration.
Completed in 2008, the centre now houses 14 organisations, including six universities. It is occupied by more than 300 employees and is accessed by around 500 students.
The building is a state-of-the-art teaching, training, research and business development facility dedicated to health and life sciences. It includes business incubation space to accommodate spin-off activities and inward investment.
A host of organisations are behind the success of the centre, including NHS Highland, NHS Education for Scotland, University of Stirling, University of Aberdeen, University of the Highlands and Islands and LifeScan Scotland Ltd.
HIE is developing the wider ‘collaborative campus’ initiative, involving both the Centre for Health Science and the developing Inverness Campus. This will stimulate further collaboration between academic institutions on research and development projects relating to life sciences.
Alex Paterson, HIE’s chief executive said: “The life sciences sector represents a huge opportunity for the Highlands and Islands, for growth, for inward investment and for employment, and is a priority for us. We are delighted to welcome the new tenants to the Centre for Health Science. The Centre has a key role in fostering and facilitating collaboration between different organisations associated with the sector. This type of collaboration is crucial to our aspiration to see many more life sciences jobs by 2020.”
One of the new tenants at the Centre for Health Science is ASPIRENorth, which delivers the Scottish Funding Council’s Schools for Higher Education Programme in the North of Scotland. Their work links with the encouragement in schools of careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), which fits well with other activities in the centre.
Other new tenants at the centre are Pathfinder Accelerator, Technology Enabled Care, Robert Gordon University (RGU) and Craegmoor, while LifeScan has located its clinical team into the centre’s Highland Diabetes Institute (HDI).
With only one unit left available at the Centre for Health Science, the next natural development for growing academic and commercial life science activity is the nearby Inverness Campus; one of Scotland’s key priorities for inward investment. Parts of the 215-acre site are designated as an enterprise area for life sciences.
HIE is particularly keen to establish a strong research and development presence on the Campus by engaging with academics and companies in digital health technology, disease management and animal health right across the spectrum from small start-ups and local businesses to global companies.
Ruaraidh MacNeil, HIE’s project director for Inverness Campus, said: “We believe the campus is an extremely attractive and powerful proposition for global companies looking to expand their businesses. Inverness is a fast growing region with good connections nationally and internationally, a new and growing university, a ready supply of a skilled and educated workers and an unrivalled business support infrastructure.”
The collaborative campus concept came as a result of the Campus Partnership Forum, chaired by Cabinet Secretary John Swinney, where the need was highlighted to continue to encourage and facilitate joint collaboration between academia and businesses to expand on the successful model demonstrated by the Centre for Health Science and the opportunies presented by Inverness Campus. Lindsey Moodie, Collaborative Campus Programme Manager, worked closely with these organisations to secure their occupancy at the Centre for Health Science and will continue to focus on growing further academic and commercial activities.
ASPIRENorth delivers the Scottish Funding Council’s Schools for Higher Education Programme in the North of Scotland. Their work links with the encouragement in schools of careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), which fits well with other activities in the centre.
Quote from Elsbeth Neil, ASPIRENorth’s regional co-ordinator for the Highlands and Islands: “Moving to the Centre means we are ideally situated to engage and collaborate more with our HE partners, to allow us to offer our pupils a better insight into what post-school study will involve, and give them a better understanding of how varied HE study can be.”
The Pathfinder Accelerator is a HIE initiative comprising a 12-week intensive programme that tests a business or team’s ideas using proven techniques that support entrepreneurship. HIE is working with BioCity to provide coaching and mentorship, develop valuable business connections and attract key speakers and facilitators to share insights and key information about essential components for the commercialisation of innovative and scalable business ideas. The current cohort of Pathfinder contains eleven teams based at the CfHS for the duration of the programme alongside HIE’sPathfinder project manager and the BioCity coaches.
Quote from Anna Miller (HIE), Senior Development Manager, Pathfinder Accelerator: “We are delighted with the level of interest and applications for this year’s Pathfinder programme which has surpassed our original targets. The Pathfinder is a fantastic opportunity for ideas to be turned into viable and commercial businesses which will contribute to the region’s life science and technology sector, support jobs and growth of the economy and the Centre for Health Science provides an ideal environment for such activity.”
NHS Highland’s Technology Enabled Care Service aims to make full use of the Highland region’s new digital infrastructure, ultimately delivering transformative health and social care services at distance. The service will substantially scale up the number of the number of people using Digital health in Highland, embedding routine technology use both within the NHS and the Highland community, enabling over two thousand new patients to benefit from its digital health initiatives by next April. This will be done through value for money partnerships that expand home health monitoring, increasing the use of video conferencing and building on existing digital platforms that give direct access to advice and help. Laic Khalique, Technology Lead, and his team of eight have moved into office facilities at the CfHS.
Quote from Laic Khalique: “As a service with innovation at its core, we are delighted to have the Centre of Heath Science as our new base. Collaboration is an absolutely vital aspect of our work and the fact that we are co-located with clinicians, researchers, academics and SME’s all the forefront of bringing about truly innovative and transformative digital heath solutions, is hugely important.”
Highland Pharmacy Education Centre (HPERC) a collaboration between RGU and with NHS Highland have taken space within the CfHS to establish a teaching and training facility for Pharmacy. This venture has stemmed from RGU developing a Masters degree programme in Pharmacy for international students coming from Oman who will spend their second year in Inverness and the surrounding area undertaking clinical placements and research work.
Quote from Gordon Rushworth, HPERC programme Director: “The opening of the HPERC is the culmination of years of work establishing an effective teaching and research collaboration between NHS Highland and RGU School of Pharmacy & Life Sciences. HPERC will deliver innovative clinical placement teaching to undergraduate and postgraduate pharmacy students in Highland and be at the forefront of clinical and practice based research.”
Craegmoor is part of the Priory Group and is a provider of specialist community based support for people with autism, learning disabilities and mental health issues. They have recently won a contract with NHS Highland to deliver services in the Conon Bridge area. They have recruited a Registered Project manager plus two support staff who will be based in the CfHS and a further thirty remote care workers will be employed out in the community.
Quote from Robbie Shanahan, Operations Director, Craegmoor: “We are very excited to be working in the Highland area providing support to people with autism. The office at the Centre for Health Science is an excellent facility enabling Craegmoor to employ local staff to support local people in their homes.”
LifeScan Scotland has recently located their clinical team into office and clinical space they already had within the CfHS. They are housed within the HDI and this will hopefully lead to more collaborative work with the other partners working in the HDI; UHI Division of Health Research, NHS Diabetes Clinic and NHS Highland Research, Development and Innovation Department.