The Animal Biosciences Sector Action Plan will be unveiled later this week and is designed to stimulate economic growth and development and will be based outside Edinburgh in Midlothian.
Campaigners have raised objections amid claims the project could lead to an increase of animal experimentation within Scotland.
Midlothian Council wants to put the area on the map as a European hub for animal biosciences development.
The region accounts for 10% of workers employed in Europe’s bioscience sector, with four main organisations – the Roslin Institute, the Moredun Group, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and Scottish Agricultural College – central to its success.
The Roslin Institute is best known for creating Dolly the Sheep, the first animal in the world to be cloned from an adult stem cell, while the Moredun Foundation is involved in research and education in animal disease and husbandry.
The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, based at a new £42 million development at Easter Bush estate and part of Edinburgh University, provides teaching and development in veterinary practice.
The Scottish Agricultural College, meanwhile, has an emphasis on animal sciences, working in close partnership with farmers in Midlothian and across Scotland.
A key market driver for the global animal bioscience sector is growth in demand for food, particularly meat and dairy products, created by rapid population rise in parts of the developing world, notably China.
At the same time, there is also a growing call for action in reducing the climate-changing emissions from livestock and agriculture. Another key field is finding cures for human medical conditions – a topic which raises tricky ethical questions.
Two years ago the Roslin Institute began controversial research to produce pigs which are affected by the lethal lung condition cystic fibrosis and an eye disease that leads to blindness in humans. The facility has also conducted similar work using sheep lungs.
Mimi Bekhechi, spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said: “Animal laboratories literally manufacture suffering and death. No matter how shiny the laboratory equipment, state-of-the-art the building, or full of impressive jargon the scientific publications that result from it, sticking animals in cages and interfering with the workings of their bodies is an outmoded and discredited approach.”
She added: “Midlothian Council’s plans to extend its animal bioscience sector, further entrenching vivisection, is exactly the wrong way to go when an increasing number of progressive scientists are embracing modern, humane, and non-animal research rather than relying on animal tests.”
A spokesman for Edinburgh animal welfare charity OneKind added: “We would ask for more transparency as to whether this will lead to the number of animals being used in experiments increasing. If so, what kinds of animals and how many?”
The plan will be unveiled at the Annual Enterprise Exhibition and Awards Ceremony at Midlothian and East Lothian Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday by Midlothian MSP Colin Beattie and has been drawn up jointly by Midlothian Council and Scottish Enterprise.
Mr Beattie said: “Midlothian is already home to some of the world’s top animal bioscience research organisations, which have helped it to develop a worldwide reputation in the field and to become one of the most important locations for animal biosciences in Europe.
“There is considerable potential for Midlothian – and Scotland – to build and expand upon existing strengths in this area.”
Councillor Russell Imrie, cabinet member for strategic services at Midlothian Council, said: “The animal biosciences sector currently employs around 1700 people in Midlothian and if growth continues at an average of 5% a year, it is projected to create about 1200 new jobs over the next nine years. Our ‘20-20 vision’ is to create 10,000 new jobs in Midlothian by the end of this decade.”