Heriot-Watt seeks development partner for ambitious UK innovation district



Heriot-Watt Research Park

Heriot-Watt University is seeking a development partner to help it build a UK research and innovation district that could create up to 10,000 jobs.  

The University has appointed property consultancy JLL to select a strategic development partner to develop future phases of Heriot-Watt Research Park, which spans 165 acres at the University’s Riccarton Campus on the west side of Edinburgh.

Heriot-Watt Research Park is of one of Scotland’s largest and most prominent science parks, with around 1,000 staff working across 28 organisations including Logan Energy, one of Europe’s leading green hydrogen innovators, pharmaceutical company Charles River Laboratories and the Scottish Blood Transfusion Service.

We believe we can create an exciting new model to drive economic regeneration that creates the companies and leaders of the future needed to provide opportunity and economic growth to Scotland.

Professor Gillian Murray, Heriot-Watt University

Almost 70 acres are available for future development and Heriot-Watt’s vision is to create a vibrant urban research and innovation district that would be one of the largest research and development opportunities in the UK. The University’s vision is to deliver a welcoming 24/7 location where leaders in innovation and enterprise are able to work with industry partners to break new ground in a sustainable, globally connected innovation district.

Professor Gillian Murray, Deputy Principal for Enterprise and Business at Heriot-Watt, said: “We are excited about the prospect of finding a new partner who shares our values and can help us realise our Strategy 2025 ambition through the development of our Research Park.  We believe we can create an exciting new model to drive economic regeneration that creates the companies and leaders of the future needed to provide opportunity and economic growth to Scotland. We welcome interest from partners who share our vision.”

Housing both businesses and academia in an attractive campus, the new research and innovation park could create as many as 10,000 new jobs and offer varied and extensive training opportunities for Edinburgh, the Lothians, and the Central Belt of Scotland. The development would include high quality accommodation and an ecosystem to drive growth for research and innovation across a range of sectors and business types, from start-ups and SMEs to established businesses.

When developed, the location will integrate with the wider range of mixed-use developments currently taking place in the west of Edinburgh, as well as promoting sustainability and health and wellbeing to surrounding communities.

Cameron Stott, Head of Scotland at JLL added, “Heriot Watt University is exceptionally well located in west Edinburgh and with the new National Robotarium building, the Scottish National Blood Transfusion headquarters and the Oriam National Performance Centre for Sport all on the campus, it really is an unrivalled offer for the Knowledge sector. We already have a healthy list of enquiries from some exciting companies in the Knowledge Sector who are keen to build closer ties with the University.”

Heriot-Watt’s Riccarton campus in Edinburgh has already seen rapid expansion in recent years and is now home to the UK’s new National Robotarium, a world leading centre for robotics and artificial intelligence, and the Lyell Centre, one of Europe's leading centres in Earth, marine and ecosystem sciences. These are the first two of six ‘Global Research Institutes’ (GRIs) that Heriot-Watt is developing – including a Net Zero GRI and Health and Care Engineering GRI. The GRIs will focus Heriot-Watt’s world-leading research on major global challenges through significant international collaborations and connectivity to business. 

Other research centres at Heriot-Watt include the Medical Device Manufacturing Centre (MDMC), which offers prototyping and manufacturing support to develop medical devices; the Industrial Decarbonization Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC), a UK research and innovation hub for industrial decarbonization – and the Research Centre for Carbon Solutions (RCCS) – a world-leading engineering centre focused on net zero technologies.


Victoria Masterson