Construction has commenced on the Edinburgh Innovation Hub, a joint venture between East Lothian Council and Queen Margaret University (QMU) in Scotland. 

The ground-breaking ceremony was attended by Scotland Minister Donald Cameron, and Scottish Government Small Business, Innovation, Tourism and Trade Minister Richard Lochhead. 

The hub received planning permission in September last year. 

In January this year, Heron Brothers was selected to undertake the construction, following a competitive tender process. 

East Lothian Council leader Norman Hampshire said: “The start of construction on this project highlights our ambition to create a sought-after location for business growth and increase high-value jobs for East Lothian.

“By supporting the food and drink and other important economic sectors, including tech and life sciences, we can attract innovative businesses to one of Scotland’s fastest growing areas.” 

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The 7,200m² hub is designed to cater to the needs of high-growth small to medium enterprises (SMEs). 

It will offer flexible laboratory, office and meeting spaces, as well as conference facilities for rent. 

Additional amenities such as an on-site café and front-of-house services will be available to tenants.  

The hub is strategically located, offering five-minute train connectivity to central Edinburgh and a 15-minute trip to Edinburgh Airport.  

Financial backing for the project includes £28.6m ($35.98m) from the UK Government, £1.4m from the Scottish Government and £10m from East Lothian Council. 

This support is part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

QMU principal and vice-chancellor Paul Grice said: “The hub is not just a new building, it will be a new business. Importantly, it will provide a much more bespoke and focused service than is currently offered by business parks, providing not only physical facilities but also the operational support SMEs need to work effectively and grow.” 

The hub is further expected to initiate the development of the broader Edinburgh Innovation Park adjacent to the QMU campus. 

Planning permission for the wider park, which includes housing, a new primary school, business and industry spaces, and community facilities, was granted in principle in March 2019.