The curtain has been drawn on COP26 and there is huge expectation that the considerable heat created by two weeks of debate and discussion will be matched by the light of meaningful action from governments around the world, writes Jennifer Craw, chief executive of Opportunity North East.
The climate crisis is the defining issue of our generation and here in the north east of Scotland we are already taking action to diversify our economy and support businesses to capitalise on the opportunities a low-carbon future presents.
This is exactly why Opportunity North East was created five years ago and we have a proven track record, across our four key sectors, of delivering transformational impact and investment.
ONE Tech Hub, which reopened last week following the pandemic, continues to accelerate the growth of a distinct digital cluster in Aberdeen. The £40 million BioHub, opening to a vibrant community of start-ups and scaling life sciences companies in autumn next year, will enable scientific entrepreneurs to commercialise innovation faster. SeedPod is a £21 million investment that will put our food and drink manufacturers at the forefront of low-carbon production, growing the size and value of a £2.2 billion sector.
Our projects in development aim to transform the north east’s £700 million seafood processing sector, with a clear focus on automation, and establish this region as a leading destination for sustainable adventure tourism.
The successful delivery of these projects will broaden our region’s economic offering, creating high-value sustainable employment aligned with low-carbon ambitions.
Opportunity North East is at a crucial milestone in its journey and we must consider the impact the last two years of unprecedented upheaval, owing to the pandemic, has had on our region. Priorities have changed and models have adapted as businesses continue to face a period of extreme pressure.
We have launched the Transforming Our Region series of targeted stakeholder engagement events with businesses and organisations across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, so we can learn from their experiences and shape future growth and further diversification.
The first event in the series took place last night. The overwhelming feeling within the room was positive, following two years of unprecedented challenges. There were several valuable ideas and proposals offered on how to best navigate economic recovery. As we move through the series of conversations with industry and partners, ONE will consider how we test and develop these ideas and use them to drive private sector action and investment for sustainable business growth and quality jobs in the low-carbon economy.
Last night, our chairman, Sir Ian Wood, and Martin Gilbert shared a hugely insightful discussion, reflecting on their own experiences of leading global companies, headquartered in Aberdeen, over the last 30 years.
They reminded us that this region has the tools at its disposal to capitalise on the opportunities green economic recovery will bring – a world class talent pool supporting a globally recognised business environment, underpinned by a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit. These are extremely powerful ingredients for success.
At Opportunity North East, we will continue to use our unique private sector leadership, team, resources and transformational projects to support ambitious businesses and deliver that success.
Working with our partners, from industry to government, the private sector will be a catalyst for continued economic diversification across north east Scotland.
Together, we will transform our region.
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