By Émer O’Toole, News Editor
A new £89 million Strathclyde research centre to engage academics and industry in areas such as energy, pharmaceuticals and engineering, is set to open in spring next year.
The Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC) has been in the works for the past two years and is Strathclyde’s single largest investment in its research capacity, accommodating around 400 students and 250 staff.
The nine storey structure is located on George Street at the edge of Glasgow’s Merchant City and is part of the University’s campus.
The aim of the building is to transform the way industry and the university engage and it forms the cornerstone of the new International Technological Renewable Energy Zone, designed to bring innovative businesses to Glasgow.
Construction giant Lend Lease was the contractor for the project which began in April 2012.
Builders faced difficulties during construction as a fifteenth century Franciscan abbey had once stood on the site and the abbey’s well made the ground wet.
Dr Steve Graham, executive director of the centre, explained: “There were terrible ground conditions when we were digging down, doing the excavation and laying the foundations. On the north east corner it was continually muddy.”
However, the problem was resolved and the centre is now almost finished.
It boasts cutting-edge research space including more than 100 laboratories as well as a transparent base which forms a shop window for the research being carried out.
Additionally, there will be conference facilities and a café.
Covering around 25,000 square metres of floorspace – equivalent to 100 tennis courts – the centre has attracted financial international partners including SSE, ScottishPower and the Weir Group, as well as financial backing from Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Funding Council and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Dr Graham continued: “The cost of driving innovation as independent businesses is becoming hugely expensive so companies are looking to each other, to their supply chains and to universities like Strathclyde to help accelerate that process.”
“The innovation focus for the building is centred on low carbon technology, on future cities and sustainability, as well as about how resources are managed.”
Stella Matko, acting director of the University’s Estates Services, said that the TIC “will act as a fantastic gateway linking the Merchant City and the city centre.”
According to an independent study published last year, the hub will have an annual economic impact of £64.5 million by 2021/22.