Research and innovation chief to visit Highlands

The University of the Highlands and Islands and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) are set to welcome the Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) next week to showcase the scale and quality of research taking place around the Highlands and Islands region.

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Sir Mark Walport leads the organisation which is responsible for the public funding of research and innovation, with a budget of more than £7 billion. UKRI works with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities and government to support research and innovation activity across the UK.

Sir Mark, who previously held roles as Government Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of the Government Office for Science, will visit the Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI at Dunstaffnage near Oban on Monday 3 June. He will tour the facilities and meet academics from around the University of the Highlands and Islands partnership to learn about marine renewable energy innovations, climate change studies in the Arctic, using robotics to explore the environment and advances in growing sustainable food in the marine environment.

Representatives from HIE will also provide an update on plans for the next phase of the European Marine Science Park.

Sir Mark will then travel to Inverness to visit the Centre for Health Science on Tuesday 4 June. He will hear about research at the university’s School of Health, Social Care and Life Sciences and meet members of the university’s Archaeology Institute, Centre for History, Institute for Northern Studies and the Gaelic college, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI.

Senior managers from HIE will then greet Sir Mark at their offices at the An Lòchran building on Inverness Campus to discuss the region’s economy.

Professor Neil Simco, the university’s Vice-Principal for Research and Impact, said: “We are delighted to welcome Sir Mark Walport to the Highlands and Islands, and look forward to showcasing some of the excellent research and innovation we have in our region, across a range of disciplines including environmental science, health, archaeology, northern studies, history and Gaelic. We hope that the visit will strengthen the ties between the university and UK Research and Innovation at what is a very important time for research and innovation.”

Morven Cameron, Head of Universities, Education and Skills at HIE, said: “The Highlands and Islands is home to some amazing research and innovation projects and facilities that contribute directly to regional growth. We are delighted to welcome Sir Mark to the region and look forward to showcasing some of these during his visit.  In particular, we will be highlighting the strong economic impacts resulting from two decades of close collaboration between HIE and the University of the Highlands and Islands.”