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Construction starts on Higgs Centre for Innovation

27 January 2016

Construction has today begun on the Higgs Centre for Innovation. The final designs for the building were also unveiled at a celebratory event at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, where the new centre will be housed.

Higgs Centre for Innovation

North Birdseye architectural drawing of the
Higgs Centre for Innovation
(Credit: jmarchitects)

The Higgs Centre for Innovation is named in honour of Professor Peter Higgs of the University of Edinburgh, who received the Nobel Prize for his prediction of the existence of the Higgs Boson which was discovered at CERN in 2012. The Centre will support start-up businesses with the aim of creating new market opportunities, especially in big data and space technologies. The Centre is funded through a £10.7 million investment from the UK Government. The Science and Technology Facilities Council will invest £2million over five years to operate the centre.

Linking cutting edge scientific and engineering expertise at STFC’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre with industry, the centre will focus on supporting business both through incubation activities and access to facilities for SMEs. Connecting engineers, academics and PhD students directly with small businesses will help boost their entrepreneurial experience at the start of their research careers.

The stand-alone building at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh will be run by the Science and Technology Facilities Council in partnership with the University of Edinburgh. The centre is due to be completed in 2017.

construction work

Partners gather to celebrate the start of construction work on the Higgs Centre for Innovation
(Credit: STFC)

Gillian Wright, Director of the UK Astronomy Technology Centre, said: “A huge amount of work has been put in by all partners over the past year to develop plans for the Higgs Centre for Innovation and now we begin the exciting phase of seeing it built before our eyes. We look forward to the completion of this important project and the benefits it will bring to both future generations of scientists and industry.”

GRAHAM Construction won the contract to carry out the work to build the centre. Craig Giblett, Contracts Director from the company, said: “This is a very exciting project for the GRAHAM Construction team to be part of and we are extremely proud to have won the contract to deliver a facility of such importance. That it will bear the name of a visionary figure such as Professor Peter Higgs gives an understanding of the significance of the centre itself and the work that will be undertaken there once our job is completed.”

Higgs Centre for Innovation

North elevation architectural drawing of the
Higgs Centre for Innovation
(Credit: jmarchitects)

Jamie Marshall, Project Manager at CPC said: “CPC has been working in partnership with STFC since 2014, and is delighted to have brought this exciting and innovative scheme through design and planning, to enable construction to begin on site today. Our team is committed to overseeing the project through to completion, and the result will create new jobs and market opportunities for the science and technology industry”.

Final designs for the building were also unveiled today by jmarchitects, the company with responsibility for the implementation of the building. Director, Ron McFarlane, said: “We are delighted to have been given the opportunity to be involved with this prestigious project, more so given its historic location and it being built in the name of the eminent Edinburgh scientist Professor Higgs.”

Professor James S. Dunlop, Head of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh, said: “The construction of the Higgs Centre for Innovation is an exciting new development in the long established collaboration between STFC and the University of Edinburgh at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. The new centre will cement Edinburgh's reputation as a world leader in the fields of astrophysics and big data, and provide new opportunities for knowledge exchange between astronomers, particle physicists, engineers and industry.”

Notes to editors


Images of partners at the construction site as well as artists impressions of the building are available. Please contact Lucy Stone (contacts below).


Lucy Stone
Deputy Media Manager, STFC
Phone +44 (0)7824 888990

UK Astronomy Technology Centre

Based at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh and operated by STFC, the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC) is the national centre for astronomical technology. The UK ATC designs and builds instruments for many of the world’s major telescopes. It also project manages UK and international collaborations and its scientists carry out observational and theoretical research into questions such as the origins of planets and galaxies. The UK ATC has been at the forefront of previous key initiatives at the VLT, including the construction of KMOS (K-band Multi-Object Spectrograph) which enables 24 objects to be observed simultaneously in infrared light.


View the jmarchitects website.

construction work

Partners gather to celebrate the start of construction work on the Higgs Centre for Innovation
(Credit: STFC)

GRAHAM Construction

GRAHAM is a privately owned company operating in the construction, asset management and project investment sectors. With a proud heritage where traditional skills and values are fused with professional management, the company has grown to have a turnover in excess of £490 million and employs more than 1,600 people.

GRAHAM is a leading player in all areas of construction and civil engineering throughout the UK and Ireland, operating from regional offices in the Republic of Ireland, England and Scotland.

For more information visit the website.

CPC Project Services

CPC Project Services is project managing the Higgs Centre for Innovation.

CPC is the the 10th largest project management consultancy in the UK, employing over 140 highly skilled staff. CPC delivers major property and infrastructure projects for the Education, Transport, Commercial and Residential sectors. CPC has offices in London, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Stansted and Oxford. Their HQ is Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1HP.

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000