Queen Margaret University (QMU) has released new images of a commercial and innovation hub, which could support up to 13,000 jobs that it plans to submit to East Lothian Council in response to the next stage of the Local Development Plan.
The University is preparing a Masterplan and Delivery Strategy, and has put forward a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) for an investment-ready business hub on the land adjacent to its Musselburgh campus it believes is needed to drive sustainable economic development that will benefit communities in East Edinburgh, Lothian and Border regions.
The University has identified food and drink, entrepreneurship and creative industry, and biomedical and enabling technologies for rehabilitation as key areas of innovation and growth. Phase One of the innovation park is for the development of a 5,000 sqm innovation centre.
The co-located commercial development will create a vibrant area that combines innovation activity with the support of the University’s academic resources together with local amenities. It is a community-focused scheme that will provide a range of facilities including retail, coffee shops, health and fitness, hotel and residential accommodation.
QMU Principal, Professor Petra Wend, said: “We have drawn on international best practice in developing our plans. A £1bn city region deal bid has been submitted by Edinburgh and the southeast area of Scotland, which concentrates on the region’s strengths of knowledge culture and technology. Although still in its early stage, we are confident that if the deal progresses that our proposals would be relevant for inclusion.
“QMU has a key role as a catalyst to attract high growth SMEs to East Lothian and to work with them to achieve Scotland’s economic aspirationsin partnership with industry bodies, other learning institutions and Government Agencies. To achieve this potential, the land adjacent to our campus must be retained for the development of specialist facilities needed to support business growth.”
QMU has been a key player in transforming the food and drink sector from one deemed to have a ‘low capacity for innovation’ to a sector that now rivals oil and gas in terms of innovation-led economic growth. QMU’s pioneering work in SME innovation, in collaboration with Edinburgh Napier University and the University of St Andrews, has also been successful in attracting the largest Scottish Government SEEKIT grant (£905k) ever awarded, matched by a European Regional Development Grant. This award transformed the innovation landscape in Scotland and QMU’s activities are regularly cited as a model of good practice in collaborative innovation infrastructure aligned to Scotland’s European Smart Specialisation Strategy.
QMU is already committed to a partnership with East Lothian Council and has created an on-campus Business Innovation Zone (BIZ) which includes the Council’s Business Gateway, the first time a Business Gateway has been based in a Scottish university.
Community consultation on the proposals is now underway.