Weekly update, 25th January 2016

Energy & Business Services:

Good to see Derek Campbell of Denchi Power heading out to take part in a programme sponsored by CNSRP partner HIE with the world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The MIT Entrepreneurship Development Programme is week long, high level, intensive executive education course teaching skills for high impact entrepreneurship. http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Thurso-battery-chief-is-US-bound-22012016.htm Sharing premises with Denchi Power in Thurso is AGM Batteries, and this week the company was one of a number from across the UK awarded financial support from the Advanced Propulsion Centre, a joint initiative between the UK Government and the automotive industry. The £5.4M project, which will create five new jobs in Thurso, will help develop the next generation of battery packs for high performance, low carbon vehicles. More at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/low-carbon-technology-in-the-auto-sector-receives-75-million-funding

It was good to catch up this week with Hans van Breugel and Sjoerd Keijser from Tocardo Tidal Turbines. Hans has been CEO of Tocardo since its earliest days of operation, and the company had considerable interest in Caithness before focusing on developing its turbine technology in the Netherlands, where its devices are working successfully in locations such as storm surge barriers. It was good to hear of the company’s continued interest in sites in Scotland. More on the company at http://www.tocardo.com/

Enabling Activities:

Caithness Chamber of Commerce is currently undertaking a needs assessment of the skills required in various north industries and public sector organisations, with a view to highlighting opportunities to improve recruitment and retention of talent. The work, for CNSRP partner HIE, will complement existing work being carried out by the Chamber to improve opportunities for young people through its Developing the Young Workforce initiative, which is funded by CNSRP partners Scottish Government and NDA. I took part in a discussion this week with the Chamber’s Chief Executive Trudy Morris, Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL) and NHS Highland, focusing on how to coordinate recruitment messages across the public and business sectors.

Good news this week that a fibre broadband cabinet in Helmsdale is now live, meaning people should now be able to order superfast broadband services. It’s another positive step along the way to availability of fibre services across the Highlands and Islands as part of the rollout programme led by CNSRP partner HIE.

Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd is to hold its annual Suppliers’ Day. The event will take place on Tuesday 8th March at the Merlin Cinema Thurso from 12-4pm. To book a place at the event please email pauline.mill@dounreay.com

Confirmation this week that HIE has commissioned work to examine the feasibility of a site at the Mhoine, west of Tongue in North Sutherland, as a vertical launch facility for small commercial satellites. The study will examine the potential economic impact such a project could create, as well as assessing any possible environmental impacts.

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 new flag for Caithness had its official launch this week following a competition instigated by North of Scotland Newspapers and managed by CNSRP partner Highland Council. Caithness becomes the first mainland Scottish county to adopt its own flag, joining both Orkney and Shetland. http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/New-Caithness-flag-unveiled-at-Wick-ceremony-26012016.htm
  • Two students from Wick High School will see their award-winning app launched commercially in London next weekend. Konrad Szewcyck and John Sutherland developed their “One Click Politics” app which won the Information Category of last year’s Apps for Good competition, and the app has now been developed for commercial launch on the Google Play store. A reminder of the students’ work is at http://www.appsforgood.org/public/awards/2015/one-click-politics The students will also feature in the CNSRP Annual Review, which will be published next month.
  • Scottish Provincial Press published its new “Energy North” supplement this week, with its usual mix of interesting pieces relevant to the energy sector. Of particular interest were pieces highlighting the local companies helping deliver the MeyGen project, and advice workshops on Resilience in the Oil & Gas industry, delivered through HIE as part of the Scottish Government’s Energy Jobs Task Force.