Innovative industry hubs across north east Scotland are becoming the focal points for action and investment to diversify the economy and grow established and emerging sectors.
Private sector economic development catalyst Opportunity North East (ONE) is leading the development and delivery of transformational places, specialist facilities and entrepreneurial ecosystems, working with public and private partners.
ONE Tech Hub, BioHub and SeedPod are where industry ambition and practical space and support combine to drive growth. Enabling businesses to scale and supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs and founders to create high-value innovation-driven enterprises.
Funding secured by ONE is also delivering new facilities and infrastructure to make the region a destination of choice in the fast-growing adventure tourism market through the North East Adventure Tourism project.
Jennifer Craw, CEO of ONE, says each project is tailored to the sector's specific needs, is nationally significant and will deliver long-term value.
"Our region is vital to the future economy. The breadth, experience and quality of our sectors and businesses are inspiring. From developing digital solutions for productivity and treatments for modern health epidemics to producing the nutritious and sustainable foods of the future that consumers demand. ONE is working to create the places, spaces and entrepreneurial environment to enable businesses at all stages to achieve their ambitions, create high-value jobs and increase productivity and prosperity," said Ms Craw.
"ONE Tech Hub is flourishing, BioHub will open this year, we are investing in adventure tourism, and SeedPod will move into construction. This region is confident, has a clear purpose in diversification, is investing in its strengths and is committed to being a world-class entrepreneurial location. We are entering a new delivery phase, and I'm excited about how much more we can achieve."
Digital tech businesses are driving solutions of the future through blockchain, AI, IoT and 5G technology. The anchor point for the activity to grow the sector is ONE Tech Hub in Aberdeen city centre. It is home to businesses and partner organisations, including TechScaler – the new Scottish Government programme for creating and scaling tech startups. Delivered nationally by CodeBase, ONE is the regional partner, and ONE Tech Hub is the TechScaler North East Hub.
Adrian Brown is co-founder and managing director of energy technology firm Fennex and moved into ONE Tech Hub in August.
"Our move to ONE Tech Hub is an important part of our growth plan. It's great to be in the hive of digital and technology excellence. We've hired seven new graduates this year alone, with plans for more. Being in ONE Tech Hub is certainly a key factor in attracting the best technology talent and immersing them in a dynamic startup community," said Mr Brown.
In life sciences, Aberdeen is home to innovation-led enterprises tackling global health challenges. Opening in spring and located on the Foresterhill Health Campus, BioHub brings together commercial, healthcare and research interests. It will provide laboratories, incubation and collaboration space and customisable accommodation over five floors, specialist business support programmes, and access to expert networks and investors.
ONE leads and co-funds the unique £40 million project to grow the company cluster with the UK Government, Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, NHS Grampian and the University of Aberdeen, supported by the Aberdeen City Region Deal.
Food and drink manufacturing is the region's most significant industry after energy. The SeedPod centre of excellence will put businesses at the forefront of product and process innovation, low-carbon high-value manufacturing, and developing premium markets with consumer-led foods of the future. SeedPod is an investment of over £20 million co-funded and led by ONE working with the UK and Scottish Governments, Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), Scottish Enterprise, Just Transition Fund and Aberdeen City Region Deal.
SeedPod will offer bespoke programmes and specialist facilities. Including incubator commercial-grade manufacturing units, development kitchens, full-service managed production and co-working and collaboration space. Construction is scheduled to start on SRUC's Craibstone campus in late spring.
"Through these projects, businesses across the region increasingly have access to an unprecedented range of specialist facilities and entrepreneurial support. That is a real vote of confidence by ONE and all the partners in their potential, our economy and our future," said Ms Craw.
North east Scotland is investing in its ambition to be a world-class adventure tourism and sports destination.
Work has started on two infrastructure projects as part of north east Scotland's ambition to be a major destination for adventure tourism, which is a fantastic next step to realise this goal.
Funding secured by Opportunity North East (ONE) through the Scottish Government's Just Transition Fund is creating new mountain biking and cycling facilities on Deeside and in Aberdeen.
The community-led Tarland Development Group is constructing three new mountain bike trails at the Tarland Trails 2 site with £215,000.
A further £182,000 enables social enterprise Transition Extreme to design and install a new pump track at its Aberdeen beachfront site.
Last autumn, ONE secured £2 million over two years from the Just Transition Fund for the North East Adventure Tourism (NEAT) project.
NEAT is transforming the region into a leading destination for adventure activities and sports by developing high-quality, sustainable facilities and low-carbon infrastructure. ONE leads and co-funds NEAT, working with sector businesses, Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Aberdeenshire Council and VisitAberdeenshire.
ONE CEO Jennifer Craw said: "It is heartening to see this investment in new infrastructure at Tarland Trails and Transition Extreme. These projects support the adventure tourism ambition and sit alongside the existing NEAT work to develop skills, business capabilities and regional events.
"The Just Transition funding enables community and social enterprise projects to achieve their ambitions and deliver more of the facilities needed to make the region a world-class destination for adventure sports.
"The NEAT project delivers community and economic benefits and sustainably manages the region's natural capital."
Tarland Trails 2 provides a more extensive network of local mountain biking trails of varying degrees of difficulty to complement existing trails in the village, creating a hub for mountain bikers of all abilities.
Transition Extreme has an ambitious plan to develop its Aberdeen beachfront site and activities. A pump track is the first on-site investment that will appeal to all ages and abilities. It will continue its long-standing commitment to local youth activity and skills development while increasing the attractiveness to a wide range of visitors.
Ross Blackadder from Transition Extreme said “We are extremely grateful to ONE for the support of our vision to be the leading destination for adventure sports in the North East. The pump track will be a vital addition to our facilities and ensure we continue to attract new and existing users to the site, and the region."
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