Edinburgh BioQuarter looks to create £1bn health innovation district

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

The NINE Life Sciences hub. Pic: EBQ3 Ltd
The NINE Life Sciences hub. Pic: EBQ3 Ltd

Related tags Edinburgh Scotland Life sciences

Edinburgh BioQuarter has formally launched its public procurement process for a private sector partner to develop the health innovation hub.

Situated three miles south of Edinburgh city center, the park is expected to be worth around £140m ($190m) a year to the Scottish economy in the next decade, employing nearly 13,000 people and supporting more than 200 health innovation companies.

The 167-acre site is already home to NINE, a life sciences innovation center owned by Scottish Enterprise, which has been designed specifically for rapidly growing life science companies and service companies. The BioQuarter also includes The Centre for Regenerative Medicine, a research institute from the University of Edinburgh studying stem cells, disease and tissue repair.

It also houses the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, a 900-bed major acute teaching hospital, the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People, and The Queen’s Medical Research Institute. The Usher Institute for data-driven health and social care innovation is set to open on the site in 2023. 

Last week the BioQuarter opened bidding for a private sector partner, highlighting the opportunity to create a £1bn / $1.35bn (estimated development value) health innovation district.

Supporting up to 200 new companies

EBQ3 Ltd has been formed between the City of Edinburgh Council, regional development agency Scottish Enterprise and the University of Edinburgh to lead the procurement of the private partner for the proposed strategic joint venture partnership. 

The public-sector led programme also includes major stakeholders NHS Lothian, a key partner in the innovation ecosystem, which has its two acute hospitals based on site.

Over the lifetime of the development, there is the potential to grow to a health innovation community of 20,000 with 2,500 residential units on site: creating an ‘entirely new neighbourhood for one of Europe’s most vibrant capital cities, supporting growth and regeneration for local communities’.

The BioQuarter includes:

  • The Centre for Regenerative Medicine (University of Edinburgh)
  • Cell and gene therapy CDMO Roslin Cells (which has given rise to two further spin-off companies, Roslin CT and CENSO
  • Janssen Pharmaceuticals has invested over £6m ($8.1m) to establish the Centre for Dementia Prevention at BioQuarter, with a commitment to recruit hundreds of patients for dementia research
  • Malvern Panalytical LifeArc
  • Bioinformatic analysis solutions company Fios Genomics

BioQuarter is expected to receive £550m of discounted capital investment, supporting 4,310 jobs in construction and contributing £270m gross, cumulative, discounted construction impact to Scottish GVA.

Edinburgh is the top city outside of London in the UK for foreign direct investment. Scottish Government Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise​ Ivan McKee MSP​ said: This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and one of the most exciting investment and collaborative opportunities with far-reaching benefits for investors, local communities and global health innovators alike.

"It shows that Scotland is very much open for business.

“With the commitment of its public sector partners, BioQuarter has had over £600m public capital investment, with even further investment planned by them over the next five years.

"It has played a key role in Scotland’s successes in the life sciences sector, which has a turnover of £6.5bn and employs over 41,000 people.

"A private sector partner will help deliver a globally significant health innovation community of researchers, academics and clinicians and will continue to foster entrepreneurship, supporting as many as 200 new companies.”

Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, added: “Edinburgh BioQuarter already plays a pivotal role in world-leading medical research and life sciences innovation, improving people’s lives in Edinburgh and around the world. This next chapter in BioQuarter’s development aims to deliver significant and long lasting economic and social benefits for Edinburgh, Scotland and beyond.

“In partnership with Scottish Enterprise, the City of Edinburgh Council and NHS Lothian, the University of Edinburgh will not only develop one of the largest medical campuses in the UK but also support an entire residential community, with opportunities for all.”

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