Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities Keith Brown today marked a major milestone in the construction phase of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) National Centre Project by joining key stakeholders at the Heriot-Watt Research Park site.

The first turf was cut on the site of the SNBTS National Centre in October 2014 and with the keys due to be handed over in November 2016, today’s visit marked the exact halfway point in the construction of the cutting-edge, purpose built blood transfusion facility.

SNBTS (part of NHS National Services Scotland) expects the full transfer to the facility to be completed by mid-2017. The move will consolidate and modernise several of the organisation’s core activities and services such as the processing, testing and manufacturing of blood and tissue components, as well as relocating its headquarters.

Progress on the new National centre at Heriot-Watt Research Park is now well underway and today’s visit by the key stakeholders involved in the project allowed them to see firsthand some of the key elements of the facility. The National Centre of Excellence will be the hub for processing, testing, supply, research and development for blood and human donor tissues and cells.

Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown said: “This fantastic centre will modernise the delivery of safe and efficient blood supplies to patients across Scotland and this halfway point in the construction sees the project really coming to life.

“The £43million Scottish Government investment is delivering a new state-of-the-art facility that will see Scotland lead the rest of the UK on researching and testing blood, as well as creating jobs and helping to grow the economy.

“This is a world-class health facility, and the benefits of building this centre go way beyond that. This important milestone in the project allows us to see first-hand how our infrastructure investment is so crucial to improving lives throughout Scotland.”

Colin Sinclair, interim Chief Operating Officer, National Services Scotland, said: “The construction of this National Centre is one of the biggest projects within National Services Scotland and has been years in the planning.

“The work of SNBTS is instrumental to healthcare provision in Scotland, and without it our health service could not function. This new facility will propel the organisation into the future by providing a flexible and adaptive space to continue to meet the needs of the population of Scotland for years to come.”

The purpose-built facility which has been designed by SNBTS and development consortium Interserve Kajima – a joint venture between International support services and construction group Interserve and Kajima Partnerships - will consolidate and modernise several of its core activities and services. The Centre of Excellence includes a pharmaceutical grade manufacturing hall to allow the “lean” and efficient processing of donated blood. Other features include a testing laboratory incorporating the latest technology and a dedicated and highly clean room suite for the preparation of therapies from human donor tissues and cellular therapies.

Mary Morgan, Director of SNBTS, said: “Today’s visit to mark the halfway point has allowed us to see firsthand the marked progress that has been made in the construction of this impressive facility.

“The development of this new facility has been years in the planning and it is very exciting to see the scale of the building as it takes shape.

“Consolidating many of our services will mean we can continue to meet the growing blood transfusion needs of patients across the country while providing the highest quality working environment for our staff and on-going contribution to Scotland’s leading life-science research and development industry.”