Next Generation Broadband for the Highlands and Islands of Scotland
9th June 2011
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is taking the first steps towards implementing a transformational project which will deliver access to superfast broadband for homes and businesses across the Highlands and Islands over the next few years.
The agency, working in partnership on the project with the UK Government Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), the Scottish Government and local authorities, has launched a procurement process to appoint a suitably experienced partner to co-invest in the provision of Next Generation Broadband (NGB) services throughout the region.
In October 2010, HIE successfully bid to be one of the initial four rural areas in the UK to receive a funding package from BDUK. The investment is targeted at exploring ways to bring the faster speeds currently being enjoyed primarily in some city locations to more rural areas.
Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HIE, said: "Good communication links are a cornerstone in growing attractive, sustainable communities in remote and rural areas. Having faster, reliable broadband links across the world brings with it a whole range of opportunities, both in delivering the services our communities need every day and in the ways we as a region can do business."
The procurement will follow the European-wide OJEU Competitive Dialogue process and HIE expects to sign contracts by July 2012.
The multi-million pound project, which will be delivered in phases, will roll out next generation access to communities and businesses across the Highlands and Islands. Details of the plan will be determined through the procurement process, with confirmation expected shortly after the contract is awarded.
Mr Paterson commented: "Understandably, everyone wants to know if faster broadband capability will reach them. Our ultimate aim is for all our communities to benefit, throughout all parts of the Highlands and Islands. At this first stage we are committed to seeing a fair spread across the region. The winning tender will need to demonstrate the best options for value and reach."
The procurement is part of a wider programme of activity which HIE is leading to maximise the benefits of improved digital connectivity - keeping our region globally accessible and our businesses highly competitive. The desired end results will be sustainable economic growth, improved delivery of public services and stronger communities.
People in 14 communities across the Highlands and Islands are being asked to take part in an online survey on rural banking services. The survey will be used to gather feedback from a broad range of individual households, businesses and community groups in areas expected to be affected by local bank branch closures.
A £5.39m construction contract has been awarded for the development of a new Research and Innovation Campus in Orkney. The campus is a joint venture by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Orkney Islands Council (OIC) who have appointed Kirkwall based R Clouston Limited as the main contractor.
A Caithness engineering and design company has become the first to achieve national accreditation through the region's ‘Cyber Strong' initiative. Thurso based Envision Engineering & Design has been awarded government backed Cyber Essentials certification.
Google's Digital Garage team, which offers free digital training to people of all ages to help them find a job, grow in their career and or business, is coming to four Highlands and Islands campuses this month to give students advice on how best to sell their skills to a new employer. As part of employability month, mentors from Google Digital Garage will travel to Alness, Inverness, Thurso and Kirkwall in Orkney to advise on how you can create a CV that shines.
Applications are now open for up to 50 ambitious entrepreneurs eager to grow their business and learn from one of the world's foremost entrepreneurs. Professor Bill Aulet, managing director of the Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will be in Edinburgh this summer for the residential Can Do SCALE summer school which runs from 18 - 20 June.
Norscot, the Highlands and Islands manufacturer of timber frame kits, windows and doors, received the Innovation of the Year Award at the prestigious Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2018. The awards, run by Interface, aim to celebrate the achievements of academic and business collaborations and partnerships.
Young people in Caithness will be the first in Scotland to benefit from new Norwegian style learning centres. A network of ‘Newton rooms' in Norway and one in Denmark are used to inspire more young people into careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
A kit home and window manufacturer with operations in Caithness and Inverness has been shortlisted for a national award for innovation. Norscot is one of three finalists in the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2018 Innovation of the Year category, after developing a system for clients to view their new homes on site virtually before building work starts.
A Shetland boat building and engineering company has increased its workforce and is set to expand internationally as orders for workboats grow. Six new jobs have already been created at Malakoff Ltd after opening a new site earlier this year at Greenhead Base in Lerwick.
A £60m fund to keep Scotland at the forefront of low carbon innovation is now open for applications. The Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP) will fund large scale projects which support the ambitions of the Scottish Government's new Scotland's Energy Strategy, which was published in December 2017.
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