Weekly update, 18th August

Energy & Business services:

It is encouraging to see this week that Denchi Power, who purchased the lithium-ion battery facility at Thurso Business Park from ABSL Power Solutions, is recruiting staff as it continues to make good progress. Current vacancies exist for Electronics, Mechanical, Embedded Software and Applications Engineer and at the Thurso facility it shares with AGM Batteries. Denchi Power’s purchase earlier this year of the ABSL Power Solutions business was supported by CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Following last week’s local press coverage of Meygen’s progress with its tidal energy plans for the Pentland Firth, news this week that Tim Cornelius, Chief Executive of parent company Atlantis Resources, has been awarded Singapore CEO of the Year by Acquisition International magazine. The award recognises Tim’s work across the globe on the commercialisation of tidal energy. Tim was in Caithness earlier this year with CNSRP Chairman Sir Anthony Cleaver to discuss opportunities around the build-out of the Meygen Tidal project.

Last Friday (14th August) Pelamis Wave Power celebrated the 10th anniversary of its installation of a wave device at the EMEC test facility in Orkney, and to celebrate it has produced a short film capturing the advances it has made in developing wave power devices. As previously reported here, the company is currently undertaking an Environmental Impact Assessment on its planned application to Marine Scotland for consent to develop a wave power array at Farr Point in North Sutherland.

Also this week SNH has published two studies on the potential impacts of marine energy devices on the marine environment. Both reports are available in summary form on the latest Marine Scotland blog.

Tourism, Food & Drink:

Dunnet Bay Distillery recently opened sales on its first batch of Rock Rose Gin following the arrival and installation of its Still at Dunnet. The first batch sold out online within 48 hours, offering an insight into the amount of interest in this new local product!

Following the second mini-festival in Caithness Horizons’ programme of three under its “Year of Ancient Ancestors” banner, the organisers of July’s Viking-themed events have said that at least 9,000 people participated during the week-long series of events. The final programme of events will take place on 24-25 October, with highlights including a Viking Feast.

Enabling activities:

I was delighted to be invited this week to meet with HIE colleagues and Paul Padaruth of the Scottish Investment Bank. It was very interesting to hear of the range of products SIB has on offer to businesses. North companies have already shown interest in its services.

A fifth round of the Scottish EDGE Fund has opened for applications. This time the Fund has been boosted by over £3M of funding from Royal Bank of Scotland and the Hunter Foundation, in addition to existing commitment from the Scottish Government. The Thurso Cinema was a major winner in the first round of the competition, and the Fund remains focused on supporting entrepreneurial activity in Scotland. Details on the Fund and on how to apply are available at the Scotedge website and the deadline for entries is 1st October.

It was good to see a number young people completing a six-week summer programme at North Highland College designed to help encourage interest in careers in engineering. Organised in association with a number of local engineering businesses and CNSRP partner Skills Development Scotland, the programme has allowed participants to gain vital skills and experience, as well as some key certification. The 14 who completed the programme have all now gone on to a Modern Apprenticeship, a Full-Time engineering course or have taken up offers of employment. More information and photos at the NHC Facebook page.

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:

  • The CNSRP Delivery Group met this week to review progress with the CNSRP Delivery Plan 2014-17, and to discuss autumn events and projects.
  • Good to see that the innovative community Wi-Fi project in Brora is due to go live – the project offers an interesting example for other communities in the north, particularly where clusters of businesses exist in towns and villages. It has been proposed by the Brora & District Action Group, and is supported by CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
  • Historic Scotland has awarded £193,000 to support repair and enhancement work at the Castle & Gardens of Mey.