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Innovators wanted to help boost rural economy

Businesses and entrepreneurs are being sought to take up residence in a multi-million pound innovation centre creating new links between science and industry in rural Scotland.

Set to open in Inverness later this year, the Rural and Veterinary Innovation Centre (RAVIC) will develop new technologies and systems for the country’s land and marine-based sectors, including the green and blue economies of agriculture and aquaculture.  

The £12.5 million pound project is being led by Scotland’s Rural College, (SRUC) whose existing Centre for Epidemiology and Planetary Health will provide a core function.  It has been funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the Scottish Funding Council and SRUC.

RAVIC 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.

As climate change continues to accelerate, the farming sector will be faced with rapidly changing animal diseases and uncertain markets. 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 closely 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.

Dr Adam Giangreco, an international expert in commercial, translational, and applied life sciences, has been appointed as Head of Business Development. The post has been supported through  a partnership between RAVIC and HIE which has helped facilitate the development.   

The collaborative hub will be looking to attract businesses that will enhance the rural economy, capitalise on the area’s natural assets, and support the transition to a net-zero economy.

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 said: “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.”

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