Weekly update, 27th January 2014

Energy & Business Services:

Scottish Renewables’ “Offshore Wind 2014” Conference and Exhibition took place in Aberdeen this week. The keynote speech was from Fergus Ewing MSP, the Scottish Government’s Energy, Enterprise and Tourism Minister. In his speech Mr Ewing confirmed that decisions on applications from offshore wind developers Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd and Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd within the next few weeks.

Recent coverage of Scottish Government’s consent for the Caithness-Moray electricity transmission network reinforcements is picked up this week in the excellent “Energy North” supplement from Scottish Provincial Press, which has an article from Dave McKay, Transmission Director at Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission Ltd. The article outlines progress being made at the now-completed Dounreay Substation. Elsewhere in the publication Caithness Chamber’s Trudy Morris welcomes the Scottish Government consent for the reinforcements, I comment on recent academic research on tidal power in the Pentland Firth, and an excellent interview with Willie Watt, General Manager at Subsea 7 highlights the company’s recent multi-million pound investment in its pipeline facility in Caithness.

Tourism, Food & Drink:

It was great to see that Helmsdale won the Creative Place award for small communities at the 2014 Creative Place awards ceremony held in Ayrshire this week by competition organiser Creative Scotland. The Awards celebrate and recognise the hard work and imagination that contributes to the rich cultural life of Scotland’s smaller communities, as well as their social and economic well-being. Timespan led the bid from Helmsdale, and the £50,000 prize will help run the 2014 “Serendipitous North” programme. Further information on the Helmsdale 2014 programmes from http://timespan.org.uk

I also met this week with a consultant engaged by Caithness Sports Facilities Ltd to assess the feasibility of plans for a Harbour Centre at Thurso. A public meeting was held in Thurso this week to gauge current interest in the idea.

Enabling Activities:

The final meeting to review arrangements for the “Jobs and How To Get Them” event took place this week, focusing on final logistics for the venue, the Pulteney Centre in Huddart Street, Wick. Press adverts appeared in this week’s local press and on Caithness FM (see communications below). Around 40 companies/ organisations will be present between 10am and 2pm on Saturday 8th February. A number of the companies will have recruitment opportunities and apprenticeships to promote, and there will also be workshops on subjects such as CV preparation, motivation and role of social media in employability.

I met today (Friday) with local partners and Colin Munro of Miconex, the company behind the Mi-Scotland concept, which has town and city centre apps aimed at making better connections between businesses and consumers. We heard examples of how the apps work, and discussed how relevant this approach might be to the north. More information at http://www.mi-scotland.co.uk

CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), in partnership with Scottish Development International (SDI) and the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC), is running a free one-day event at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness on  Wednesday 5th March for companies to find out more about business opportunities in China. There are significant opportunities in key sectors including: food and drink; textiles, energy; healthcare; technology; advanced engineering; and financial/ professional services. The event will also offer insights into key issues such as routes to market, Chinese culture and protecting your intellectual assets. Delegates will also hear from seafood company Marine Harvest about their experience of doing business in China, and will have the opportunity to book one-to-one clinics with specialist advisers. More information and to booking details at the event page on HIE’s website.

Communications:

As part of an ongoing process of helping communicate progress with the delivery of aspects of our economic transition programme CNSRP’s partners work together to generate news stories for local, regional and national media. I also speak on a regular basis to individuals and organisations across the area to update on progress. This week:

  • As part of activities to promote the “Jobs and How To Get Them” event on 8th February myself and Marcus Mennie from Caithness Chamber were interviewed for a short piece on Caithness FM.
  •  Wick High School’s two “Apps for Good” winning teams were in London this week for the launch of their two apps. The Cattle Manager and Dog Log apps were very well received and are now available to download on Google Play – Cattle Manager has already had more than 100 downloads. Congratulations again to Chris Aitken and the teams: the work being done at Wick to promote technology skills continues to impress everyone. Local partners have recently supported further efforts to attract funding for enabling activities around science, technology, engineering and maths topics at Wick and around the area.