A new “innovation campus” that could create up to 2,000 jobs and give a huge boost to the city’s economy has been revealed by Lancaster University.
Building on the mooted idea of a science park on land adjacent to the university in Scotforth Road, Lancaster Health Innovation Campus would be the size of 15 football pitches and cover 11 hectares of what is currently agricultural land.
The university says the project, which could be completed by 2018, will help people to live longer and healthier lives by developing solutions to problems caused by ageing populations.
A £17m government grant via the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership has allowed the university to kickstart the project, which could bring an annual economic boost of £99.8m to the area.
Professor Andrew Atherton, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University, said: “The Lancaster Health Innovation Campus will build on Lancaster University’s already strong reputation for research into health and ageing.
“As more and more people are living longer, research into improving the lives of people as they become older has never been more important.
“This campus will significantly help us to bring about advances in technology and care programmes through research alongside healthcare and commercial partners that will enrich people’s lives.
“It is also a very significant investment that will contribute hugely to the regional economy.”
Plans for a new science park at the university were given the green light by Lancaster City Council in 2009.
An outline application for the park between the A6 and Bailrigg Lane, and a full application for a new access road and spine’ road, was approved by the planning committee.
Features of the Health Innovation Campus include facilities to work on new technologies to improve assisted living and research into social care.
There will also be space for a medical centre for research collaborations with the NHS and other health bodies and additional buildings and laboratories for relevant healthcare businesses to use.
The campus is a response to a genuine need from industry and there will be a strong focus on working with businesses and healthcare providers to make advances in technologies, products and services, the university said.
An independent economic impact assessment has found that when the campus is fully operational the project will have the capability to create more than 2,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of £99.8m.
Edwin Booth, chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership said: “The announcement of the creation of a new Health Innovation Park in Lancashire is tremendous news both for the local area and the county as a whole.
“Lancashire has a long history of creating economic and social benefits from cutting-edge science and I am sure that this new campus will continue that tradition, as we look for ways to meet the challenges of an ageing society.”
A spokesman for Lancaster University said that in terms of planning, the latest situation is that there needs to be a land transfer between Lancaster City Council and the university before anything else happens.
Lancaster University has a very strong reputation for health and ageing academic research through research centres such as The Centre for Ageing Research, International Observatory on End of Life Care, Centre for Disability Research, Centre for Research in Human Development and Learning and the Lancashire Health Hub.
Ageing is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest social and economic challenges of our time.