Greg Clark MP, the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) was in the north this week to visit the site of the proposed Spaceport in North Sutherland. Also on the visit, which was extensively covered on BBC and STV television news, were representatives of the UK Space Agency and CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise, as well as space industry partners Lockheed Martin and Orbex Space (see my online blog for photo). The Secretary of State also met representatives from the Melness Crofters’ Estate as well as Highland Council, Chamber of Commerce and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-45130070
Energy & Business Services:
I mentioned in my last update that Sykes at Home team had been back in Caithness as their recruitment campaign for up to 100 homeworkers kicks off. There is now an online link to the Homeworking jobs application process at https://jobs-sykesuk.icims.com/jobs/64224/homeworking-customer-service-advisor/job?mobile=false&width=1245&height=500&bga=true&needsRedirect=false&jan1offset=0&jun1offset=60
Tourism, Food & Drink:
Good to see that the Peatlands Partnership has appointed a World Heritage Site (WHS) officer to take forward the idea of The Flow Country in Sutherland and Caithness becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Joe Perry will move north from Glasgow to take up post. Attracting WHS for the Peatlands has been a long-held ambition for partners in the Peatlands Partnership, and a World Heritage Site Working Group was set up by the Partnership in 2017. This short-life working group is independently chaired by Frances Gunn of The Highland 3rd Sector Alliance (Frances is also a member of the CNSRP Advisory Board) and will have a fixed purpose to develop and submit a Technical Evaluation to the UK Government Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) by the summer of 2019. Whilst the Peatlands Partnership is keen to be invited to ‘apply’ to UNESCO for inscription, it is not yet committed to that course. The case still needs to be strengthened, but perhaps more importantly, the costs need to be weighed up with the potential longer term environmental, economic and social benefits. Of course, even if the site is ultimately nominated by Government, there is no guarantee that it will be accepted by UNESCO and inscribed as a World Heritage Site.
CNSRP partner HIE has a new member of staff in Caithness – Lizi Blackwood is the Technology Development Manager for the Northern Innovation Hub, which is a project funded through the Inverness & Highland City-Region Deal. Lizi is based in Thurso, and is involved in the launch of the Technology Placement Programme (TPP). The TPP has been developed by HIE to ensure non-account managed SMEs and social enterprises in the Highland Council area have access to the skills help them grow and keep ahead of rapid changes in technology. Similar to the ScotGrad programme, TPP allows SME’s and social enterprises to make the connection with students and graduates, to bring forward additional ideas and knowledge that will enable businesses to improve their productivity and competitiveness through technology-based innovation. http://nih.hie.co.uk/programmes/technology-placements
As mentioned before, CNSRP partner HIE is running a 12 week business accelerator programme in Caithness, for companies in technology and science sectors. This programme is also funded under the Northern Innovation Hub and is run by experienced business coaches. The aim of this ‘Pathfinder’ programme is to save businesses time and money by facilitating an accelerated approach to narrowing down target markets and developing a commercialisation plan. There is a taster session at Caithness Horizons on Wed 22nd Aug at 2 pm – you can find out more (and sign up) at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/pathfinder-accelerator-taster-session-thurso-tickets-47666902990
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: