News release

JLL seeks development partner for UK innovation district at Heriot-Watt University

Vision to expand Heriot-Watt Research Park could create 10,000 jobs

February 24, 2023

Alyssa Dwek

UK Communications Manager

Heriot-Watt University is seeking a development partner to help it build one of the largest and most ambitious research and development opportunities in the UK, creating up to 10,000 jobs.

The partnership will create a fantastic opportunity to partner with Heriot-Watt University in creating a new type of Innovation Hub to drive economic regeneration at scale through alignment of research, innovation, talent development and Heriot-Watt’s global environmental and sustainability ambitions.  The University’s aspiration 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.

The University has appointed JLL to select a strategic development partner to develop future phases of Heriot-Watt Research Park, a 165-acre site 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.

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. This would include developing 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. Housing both businesses and academia in an attractive campus, the 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.

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.

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.

Professor Gillian Murray from Heriot-Watt University 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 need to provide opportunity and economic growth to Scotland. We welcome interest from partners who share our vision”

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.”

About JLL

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. JLL shapes the future of real estate for a better world by using the most advanced technology to create rewarding opportunities, amazing spaces and sustainable real estate solutions for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $19.4 billion, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of more than 102,000 as of September 30, 2022. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit