Higgs Centre construction begins

Work has begun on constructing the Higgs Centre for Innovation at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh.

The final designs for the building have also been unveiled at a celebratory event at the site.

Breakthrough discovery

The Higgs Centre for Innovation is named in honour of Professor Peter Higgs of the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy.

The pioneering scientist received a Nobel Prize in Physics in 2013 for his prediction of the existence of the Higgs boson particle, which enables other particles to acquire mass.

This fundamental particle was discovered by scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in 2012.

£11 million investment

The Centre will support start-up businesses with the aim of creating new market opportunities, especially in big data and space technologies.

It is funded through a £10.7 million investment from the UK Government.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council will invest £2 million over five years to operate the centre.

Entrepreneurial boost

The centre will aim to link industry with cutting-edge scientific and engineering expertise at the STFC’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre.

It will focus on supporting business both through incubation activities and access to facilities for small and medium-sized enterprises (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 will be run by the Science and Technology Facilities Council in partnership with the University.

The centre is due to be completed in 2017.

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.

Professor James DunlopHead of the Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh

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.

Gillian WrightDirector of the UK Astronomy Technology Centre