Innovation boost for construction and manufacturing
11th June 2020
Innovation is fundamental to business growth and diversification. It is also absolutely essential in Scotland's economic recovery as we emerge from the impacts of COVID-19.
There's never a bad time for businesses to innovate, but it’s fair to say that now has to be one of the most important times to explore and embrace fresh ideas and approaches.
And for construction and manufacturing SMEs across our region looking to do so, there has been some really good news recently.
On 29 May, Fiona Hyslop Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture announced an additional £20m for the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), bringing total Scottish Government investment to £75m.
The Cabinet Secretary also announced £15.8m investment in 12 projects from the Advanced Manufacturing Challenge Fund (AMCF). This is a partnership of HIE, Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise that includes £8.3m from the European Regional Development Fund.
The projects include one led by West Highland College UHI and a collaboration between Inverness College UHI and the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC).
The West Highland College UHI Advanced Manufacturing in the West Highlands initiative project is a £1.6m initiative to provide local businesses with access to advanced manufacturing technology and expertise.
It will support SMEs and micro businesses involved in manufacturing across different industry sectors, including food and drink, construction, aquaculture, metals and timber.
The multi-sector approach will give local firms access to new advanced manufacturing equipment and specialist expertise. This will help inform their adoption of new technology, processes and products and lead to improved productivity.
The collaboration between Inverness College UHI and CSIS is the new Make it Smart Hub.
This will support and encourage construction and manufacturing SMEs to learn, apply and share new technologies, processes and skills, that improve productivity and drive inclusive growth.
Through multiple channels it will make it easier for companies to engage, collaborate, learn and apply innovation in their businesses, wherever they are based. The aim is to improve productivity and profitability, secure competitive advantage, and unlock new economic opportunities.
This will be a real boost to areas of construction, such as digitisation, offsite manufacturing, low carbon technologies and technical expertise.
All of this coincides with NMIS announcing the £42m construction contract for its flagship facility near Glasgow Airport. With a fully digitalised factory of the future, skills academy and collaboration hub, this will support manufacturing and engineering firms across the country to innovate and grow their businesses.
These new initiatives place innovation at the heart of construction and manufacturing operations and will help strengthen our region’s position through the recovery stages and beyond.
Steven Hutcheon, acting regional head of technology and innovation
Photographer - Paul Campbell
Planning consent has been granted for a new life sciences innovation centre on Inverness Campus. The 2500m² facility is a joint project between Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the University of the Highlands and Islands.
An Isle of Lewis-based television production company has recently expanded its development team with support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). Catriona Lexy Campbell has been recruited by award-winning firm, MacTV, as a development researcher to help increase the company's global appeal and to build on its success to date.
The plans were announced today (Tuesday 17 November) by ALVANCE Aluminium, operator of the Fort William plant. Responding to the news, Alastair Nicolson HIE's area manager for Skye Lochaber and Wester Ross, said:"Fort William's aluminium smelter has been a cornerstone of the Lochaber economy for generations.
Sixteen community group representatives from Shetland to Galloway will be expanding their horizons digitally this weekend as they look at the future of Scottish tourism. The group is taking part in Communities Leading in Tourism, a specialist programme offered by partners Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), and delivered on the ground by the Social Enterprise Academy (SEA).
A business support programme aimed at developing the next generation of entrepreneurs is to be extended across the Highlands and Islands. IMPACT30 is currently operated by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) in the Highland Council area, as part of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal.
Cairngorm will benefit from more than £20 million to make it a year-round attraction, generating significant economic benefits for the local area and Scotland's tourism sector. Funded by the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), more than £16 million of the investment will be used to support reinstatement of Scotland's only funicular railway and bring it back into service during winter 2021-22.
Renewable energy industry groups in Scotland and Germany are joining forces to boost the production of both offshore wind energy and green hydrogen. The north of Scotland's offshore wind cluster organisation, DeepWind, has today (Wednesday 23 September 2020) signed a three-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) with its German counterpart, WAB.
A project to create accommodation facilities at Kishorn dry dock in Wester Ross has secured investment of up to £94,675 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). Having on-site accommodation will enhance the dock's capacity and help it attract more high-end contracts in offshore renewables and oil and gas decommissioning.
£2 million for locally-led green recovery. Island communities will benefit from a £2 million programme of locally-led green projects designed to help support their economic recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
A free programme to help businesses accelerate their growth has opened for new applications, with a virtual taster session arranged for 24 September 2020. Developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the Pathfinder Accelerator programme provides fast-track training and mentoring and will be delivered completely online.