Edinburgh BioQuarter has announced a £750m planned transformation which will create a new vibrant mixed-use neighbourhood, supporting a community of more than 20,000 people.

Badged as Edinburgh’s Health Innovation District, the long-term vision for the 160-acre site on the southern edge of Scotland’s capital city now includes plans for residential housing. There will be more space for research and healthcare innovation accommodation, commercial use, hotel, gym, retail and leisure. The expansion will support an estimated 9,000 new jobs, plus additional construction jobs and will grow the pipeline of successful companies.

Over the last two decades, BioQuarter has played a pivotal role in cultivating world-leading medical research and life sciences innovation that is improving people’s lives around the world. It is currently home to 8,000 people who work and study within its boundary and includes many award-winning life sciences businesses based at BioQuarter’s Innovation Centre, the globally renowned Edinburgh Medical School, 900-bed Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, world-leading medical research which includes one of Europe’s largest clusters of stem cell scientists based at the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine.

BioQuarter intends to seek a joint venture partner through an OJEU competitive dialogue to be part of its ambitious vision. With a Gross Development Value estimated at over £750m, there is an opportunity to develop in phases the remaining 67 acres of underdeveloped land, estimated at circa 4m sq ft. of development.

Edinburgh BioQuarter’s Interim Programme Director Anna Stamp said: “Our plans are to create a vibrant new neighbourhood of Edinburgh centred around a world-leading community of healthcare innovators. By developing at scale and at pace together with a private sector partner we will accelerate solutions to global health challenges.

“The time it takes to deliver a new medical technology or drug from concept to patient can be a long and often expensive journey; many fail due to a lack of access, investment and expertise. BioQuarter offers a truly “translational” solution to this issue thanks to the colocation of clinical scientists, researchers, patients, specialist facilities and businesses all in one place. What we have here is a once in lifetime opportunity to develop a new brand of Science Park, a ‘Health Innovation District’ that will ensure Edinburgh strengthens its position as a global leader in developing new treatments and cures.

“We now intend to seek a private sector partner to share our vision and values. We want to create a place where great things happen in the battle to tackle global health challenges, and where people want to live as well as work, study and relax.”

BioQuarter’s partners – City of Edinburgh Council, NHS Lothian, Scottish Enterprise and the University of Edinburgh – have already invested over £500m in the existing site, with a further £300m investment planned in the next five years through pipeline projects, including the new £68m University of Edinburgh Usher Institute.

Managing Director of Economic Development at Scottish Enterprise Linda Hanna said: “Edinburgh BioQuarter is one of the most significant long-term investments Scottish Enterprise has undertaken to accelerate growth of healthcare innovation and research in Scotland.

“Our work with partners and industry to build on this success means we are now in an exciting position to develop a vibrant new community around that base. I believe this will create fantastic opportunities for businesses in Scotland not least as we enter the procurement process – on the site itself, for wider supply chains and linked industries.

“The next phase of the Bioquarter will bring real economic and social benefits for Edinburgh, as well as continuing to grow a genuine world-leading medical research and innovation base and destination for global companies and investment right here in Scotland.”

Boxed out

Figures published by the Scottish Government in February 2020 show company employment in Scotland’s life sciences sector increased by 20% over seven years (2.6% year-on-year), with turnover growing by 90% to reach £6.5 billion in 2017. This news puts the sector firmly on track to exceed its strategic target of £8 billion by 2025.

From 2010 to 2017, company turnover increased by 90% and gross value added (GVA) by 48%. This represents a year-on-year growth of 9.6% for company turnover and 5.7% for GVA.​ The sector employs 41,000 people across more than 770 organisations, including some 670 companies. The number of life science companies in Scotland has increased by 19% during those seven years, representing a year-on-year growth of 2.5% between 2010 and 2017.

Over the last two decades, Edinburgh BioQuarter campus has played a pivotal role in cultivating world-leading medical research and life sciences innovation that is improving people’s lives around the world. Anna Stamp added: “This level of investment at BioQuarter together with a bold vision will help to ensure Scotland’s life sciences sector continues to punch above its weight for generations to come. Our location in a beautiful city, ranked as one of the top places in the world for quality of life is, of course, a huge bonus. In addition, our proximity to the globally renowned life sciences clusters’ in Oxford and Cambridge for wider collaboration is the icing on the cake.”