A major boost could be on the way for Aberdeen City and Shire’s expanding life sciences sector with the announcement of ambitious plans for Aberdeen’s first business incubator units specifically targeting the sector.
The University of Aberdeen - supported by Scottish Enterprise Grampian – is behind the £2.25 million venture which will help support growth of the burgeoning sector. Aberdeen City Council is also backing the initiative which is expected to attract foreign investment into the region, as well as encouraging the commercialisation of research by homegrown talent.
The University will shortly lodge plans with the City Council to develop Life Science Innovation - a £1.6 million building to house fledgling companies working on the commercialisation of life sciences research. The 10,000sqft building is the first phase of the project and the premises could eventually be expanded to 30,000sqft to accommodate demand as companies expand or new businesses are formed.
Scottish Enterprise Grampian is investing £1.6 million in the facility which would be based at the heart of Aberdeen's professional and academic medical science community at Foresterhill – one of Europe's largest healthcare campuses.
The University of Aberdeen will invest £350,000 in the project and Aberdeen City Council is also allocating £300,000 from the City Growth Fund as a partner contribution to the proposed new build, which is on the site of the old Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital. The land is being provided by NHS Grampian.
The purpose-built one-storey complex would house start-up companies, as well as more established businesses which still need to be on the Foresterhill campus - close to first class facilities such as the University's Institute of Medical Sciences and Institute of Applied Health Sciences, and where clinicians and scientists work alongside each other in a "bench to bedside" approach.
Professor Stephen Logan, Senior Vice Principal at the University, who is also a board member of SE Grampian, said: "We are extremely excited about the new Life Science Innovation facility which is yet another example of the enormous investment and commitment the University of Aberdeen is making in ensuring the very best facilities at Foresterhill.
"The University already has an excellent track record in successful spinout companies and we expect Life Science Innovation will encourage more spinout activity. This flagship facility will also offer external life sciences companies the infrastructure they require when embarking on their first years of development."
Dr Liz Rattray, Deputy Director of the University's Research and Innovation, said: "We believe Life Science Innovation will attract life science companies into the region. The facility will also bring life sciences expertise together in one cluster whereas before they have been spread across the city."
SE Grampian chairman Patrick Machray said: "Scotland's world class scientific and research expertise and company base makes it ideally placed to capture a larger share of the global market and become an internationally significant location for life sciences
"The work being done in Aberdeen – which will be greatly expanded as a result of our investment in the facility - complements research being carried out in Edinburgh and Dundee rather than competing with it and will help us achieve our aim of developing critical mass in the sector. It will also help us to help companies do more work internationally and promote Scotland as one of the world's leading locations for life sciences investment.''
Aberdeen City Council Leader Kate Dean said: "We are delighted to support this groundbreaking initiative through the City Growth Fund.
"We are confident the Life Science Innovation facility will give an enormous boost to the sector, lifting its presence in Aberdeen and further enhancing the city's reputation as a scientific centre of excellence."
The new building will comprise units for small businesses with three to four members of staff as well as businesses with around 20 people.
There are an estimated 1,500 employees in the life sciences sector in our area engaged primarily in human health and nutrition, bone health, MRSA and fungal infection specialisms.