North east Scotland has a track record established over decades as one of the most investable, productive and entrepreneurial economies in the UK, with high levels of business start-up, research and development, and exports.
Significant economic changes are creating new opportunities and challenges, from the climate crisis driving the acceleration to a low-carbon economy to evolving international trading relationships.
Entrepreneurial business growth is essential to achieving economic transformation across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire
“The region's future economic performance will make a significant difference to the national economy. Delivering low-carbon solutions for net-zero targets, increasing productivity and exports, commercialising innovation and creating more high-value jobs,” said Jennifer Craw, chief executive of Opportunity North East.
The private sector economic development catalyst has used its leadership, resources and team to build a programme of support for businesses over the past five years. With a focus on digital, food and drink manufacturing, agriculture and seafood processing, life sciences and tourism.
"ONE's business growth, mentoring and leadership programmes equip founders and leaders with the tools, insights, and peer networks to achieve their ambitions," said Ms Craw.
The transformational projects ONE leads – including BioHub and SeedPod – and ONE Tech Hub, its digital hub in Aberdeen city centre, create innovative places for industry to come together, develop and grow.
“This region has a strong entrepreneurial spirit. ONE's action and investment are building the specialist support and infrastructure - the place and space - to help new and scaling businesses grow faster and create jobs," explained Ms Craw.
BioHub, on Aberdeen’s Foresterhill Health Campus, will be home to up to 400 scientific entrepreneurs, turning world-class innovation into new products, treatments, therapies and digital health solutions. It will open in late 2022, providing dedicated incubation, laboratory and office space for spinouts, start-ups and growing life sciences businesses and a focal point for ONE's sector growth programmes, alongside access to expert networks and investors.
SeedPod, to be built on Scotland’s Rural College’s Craibsone campus, will be the industry innovation centre of excellence for high-value food and drink manufacturing, developing premium on-trend products for global markets and sustainable production.
ONE secured capital from the Scottish and UK governments via the Aberdeen City Region Deal for both projects and is a co-funding partner in both.
ONE Tech Hub, created with a £1.5 million investment by ONE, is and nurturing the region’s tech ecosystem and supporting growing technology businesses in the region from the early start-up phase through to fully scaled maturity.
“Working with regional and national partners, we provide the wraparound support and space to make this one of the most exciting locations in the UK to create and grow businesses – to drive recovery and accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy,” said Ms Craw.
Industry and regional and national partners share the vision for recovery and diversification, from local and national government, the University of Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University, SRUC and NHS Grampian to Scotland Food & Drink and CodeBase.
There is also recognition that energy, hospitality and tourism in the region have been disproportionately affected by the fallout from the pandemic and oil and gas downturn over the past 18 months and young people particularly disadvantaged in the jobs market.
The Scottish Government’s £14.3 million North East Economic Recovery and Skills Fund (NEERSF) will boost employment prospects for more than 3,000 people across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire and accelerate economic growth.
Opportunity North East will lead and deliver £6 million of business growth, innovation and skills programmes funded by NEERSF as part of the regional delivery partnership, that includes both councils and universities, Energy Transition Zone Ltd, Skills Development Scotland and Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce. The ONE projects include key sector accelerators, an innovation investment fund, a graduate into business programme, leadership and entrepreneurial skills development, and hospitality apprenticeships.
Ms Craw said: “NEERSF gives the region additional resources at a critical time to drive recovery. The projects delivered by ONE and the other NEERSF partners will make a difference to people, start-ups and established businesses over the next six months. We will support businesses to grow, innovate and create new jobs across digital tech, food and drink manufacturing, hospitality, life sciences and tourism. The action and investment will also improve employment prospects for individuals in work, returning to work and starting their careers.”
The message coming across loud and clear is that investment in north east Scotland will deliver a national impact.
Your privacy matters to us so if you want to find out more on how we keep your data safe, view our Privacy Notice or talk to ONE direct.