Sealing the deal: funding released for three projects as the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal is signed

Monday 30 January 2017

The Heads of Terms document for the Deal, worth £315 million, was signed in March 2016, paving the way for business cases to be submitted to the UK and Scottish Governments for approval.

The City-Region Deal sets out the areas where the Scottish Government will commit investment of up to £135m and the UK Government will commit investment of up to £53.1m, which, together with £127m of further investment by the Council and partners, will deliver a step change in digital connectivity, digital healthcare, skills, innovation and infrastructure.

The impact of the Deal on Inverness and the wider Highland region will be significant in securing the long term productivity and economic growth of the region and position it as a region of digital opportunity. Regional partners estimate that the City-Region Deal funding of £315m could unlock up to an additional £800 million of investment by the private sector.

The Deal was signed by Councillor Margaret Davidson, Leader of the Highland Council, Keith Brown MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, The Scottish Government, and UK Government  Minister Andrew Dunlop.

The signing took place at the premises of Carbon Dynamic, Invergordon, a partner in a ground-breaking assisted living scheme, led by Albyn Housing Society.

Built of modular construction, by Carbon Dynamic, the ‘fit home’ will host various levels of sensoring equipment enabling the capture of data and associated predictive health analytics which could potentially help prevent episodes or events leading to ill health.  It will also include flexible spaces and walls for storing medical equipment.

The unique collaboration, which also includes NHS Highland, will use the latest digital technology to enable vulnerable people to live independently in their communities for longer as well as preventing hospital admissions and enabling early hospital discharge. An outline business case is currently under review as part of the City-Region Deal.

The release of £12.25 million of Scottish and UK Government funding was also announced today for three approved business cases which will allow the project work to begin on the Science Skills Academy STEMD, the UHI School of Health, Social Care and Life Sciences and on Land Remediation in Inverness. The investment will begin with the release of over a quarter of a million pounds in this financial year.

Science Skills Academy STEMD
£3 million has been approved by the Scottish Government for the business case of the Science Skills Academy (SSA).

The project is being led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to help engage more young people in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths/digital skills (STEM/D), in partnership with Highland Council, the University of the Highlands and Islands, Skills Development Scotland, and others.

SSA is designed to help ensure there are sufficient numbers of young people with STEM/D skills needed for future economic growth in the region. The academy is a long term, innovative and ambitious project which will increase the number of young people able to take advantage of the growing opportunities in life sciences, renewable energy and digital technologies.

SSA will operate from a hub based at Inverness Campus which will pilot a tailored approach for the Highlands. Learning centres modelled on the Norwegian Newton Rooms, delivering inspirational, practical STEM/D education in partnership with schools will be developed across the region. These are very well equipped science rooms providing students with state of the art educational equipment with a focus on hands-on experiments and practical activities. Five Newton Rooms will be in place by the end of 2019.

University of the Highlands and Islands School of Health, Social Care and Life Sciences
The university has been awarded £9m from the UK Government, as part of the city-region deal to establish commercialisation, academic and clinical capacity to deliver projects in health, social care and life sciences.

A custom-built facility on the Inverness Campus will operate as a flexible open access unit supporting the interaction between the health service, the academic sector and commercial partners.  Resulting projects will generate new products and services, business start-ups and licensing deals, as well as service quality improvements and new models for clinical delivery for the NHS.

The new facility will be collocated with a proposed NHS elective care centre and a new life science building owned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise.  Although it will be physically located on the Inverness Campus, it will support developments around the region.

A key focus is to expand the range and scope of the commercial life science sector in the Highlands and Islands, providing the infrastructure and personnel to draw in new investment and create jobs.

Development areas will be linked to the regional economy, demography and geography including disease management and prevention, rural health, digital health, integrated health and social care and technology assisted living.

This initial investment will help to recruit technical and business specialist staff to design and operate the proposed facility. At the same time, the university will work closely with NHS Highland to build capacity in clinically active research staff who will work in partnership with university research teams.

Recruitment of staff will begin immediately and will develop over the next two and a half years. The new facility should be occupied towards the end of 2019.

Longman Land Remediation (£250,000)
The first tranche of the £10 million business case for the Longman Land Remediation project, led by The Highland Council, has been released. This funding from the UK Government will allow site investigations and monitoring of the land to assess suitability for economic development to progress.

The project aims to ensure that there is sufficient land supply to enable Inverness and the Highlands to expand its economic activity and productivity by bringing into use large brownfield contaminated sites.  Through remediation of a redundant landfill site and carrying out site servicing works, the Council will be able to release a strategic site to the market to meet the needs of both small and medium size businesses and the needs of larger inward investment companies. This will enable 18 hectares of development-ready land for light industry/commercial use to provide employment opportunities and ensure the continued economic growth and success of Inverness.

Calum Macaulay, Chief Executive at Albyn Housing Society, said: “The central concept of these high-quality, sustainable homes is that they will include ambient, physiological and building sensors to collect data that can be monitored and responded to by a variety of agencies – potentially transforming the way health and social care is delivered.

“The collaboration has already included potential residents, doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, health and social care managers, technologists, enterprise executives – anyone who can offer experience, expertise and insight to ensure this project results in a sustainable and successful model for the future.

“We’re very excited to be progressing this unique initiative as part of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal given its enormous potential to develop a Highland, UK, even Global, solution that encompasses housing, health, care, digital technology and economic growth.”