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Weekly Update, 11th July 2011

Together with representatives from Highland Council, Caithness Chamber of Commerce, Thurso & Wick Trades Council and Dounreay Stakeholder Group I met this week with consultants engaged by one of the companies involved in the Dounreay PBO Competition. They have been asked to help identify ways in which a new PBO at Dounreay can best add value to the economic and socio-economic future of the area. Later this week, together with Caithness Chamber and HIE, I met with a representative of the current Dounreay PBO to discuss current issues, opportunities and activities with which the PBO might be able to help. We discussed a range of issues such as support with procurement/ contracting skills for companies; apprenticeships; and spin-out/ skills transition opportunities.

The Scottish Government’s 2020 Routemap for Renewable Energy in Scotland has just been published. It is an update and extension to the Scottish Renewables Action Plan 2009. This updated and expanded Routemap reflects the challenge of Scottish Government’s new target to meet an equivalent of 100% demand for electricity from renewable energy by 2020, as well as the target of 11% renewable heat. You can view and download the document at

The UK Renewable Energy Roadmap has also been published this week, and includes content on technologies such as onshore/ offshore wind, wave & tidal, biomass and heat pumps. The proposed Government actions focus on bringing down the costs of offshore wind generation, and securing the economic and energy security benefits from this technology. The document can be accessed at

RenewableUK and Energy & Utility Skills have published a new report demonstrating the employment potential of the UK’s wind and marine energy sector by 2021. The study, “Working for a Green Britain Vol 2”, outlines three possible market development scenarios (high growth, medium and low) in the wind, wave and tidal energy industries – if sufficient skilled recruits are available to employers. Under the medium growth scenario, 67,200 new jobs will be created in the sector and its supply chain as wind and marine capacity reaches 41.5 gigawatts (GW) – up from 21,100 jobs in 2010. You can read the report at

Enabling activities:
Caithness Chamber of Commerce’s £2.3M “Make the Right Connections” skills transition programme continues to develop. I met with Project Co-ordinator Marcus Mennie this week to discuss progress. The initial phase of work is progressing well, with a database of training providers now complete, and 24 local supply chain companies signed up to participate in the programme.  Work on “opportunities realisation” is also progressing well, and the convergence of the programme with other elements such as Invest Caithness and ongoing supply chain diversification activity can now be seen. The programme is funded by the NDA, ESF, DSRL and Skills Development Scotland.

HIE is staging a two day workshop on 1st-2nd August in Inverness-shire for companies who have growth aspirations but might have constraints relating to business financing. It is an opportunity to learn more and gain support in developing your financing strategy with coaching from an internationally experienced entrepreneur from MIT’s Entrepreneurship centre. Amongst the topics covered will be:  Understanding the role that financing should play throughout the lifecycle of the business;  How to develop a financing strategy aligned to the specific needs of your business; Understanding when, where, how and from whom you should find the money to grow your business; How to take control of your financing; How to drive the financing process rather then letting it drive you; How to successfully raise money; Understanding what investors look for in a management team and business plan; An overview of the current state of new company financing in Scotland; How to ensure the business is successful once your financing is in place. Further information and booking at

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:
Both the Caithness Courier and the Press and Journal carried Iain Grant’s article on the start date for work on the £20M development at Scrabster Harbour, which you will recall attracted funding from CNSRP partners NDA, HIE and Scottish Government as well as Scrabster Harbour Trust, the European Regional Development Fund and European Fisheries Fund. Scrabster’s interest in West of Shetland oil & gas developments will have been supported this week by the announcement that BP and its partners are to invest £3bn to redevelop two West of Shetland fields.
I met this week with David Richardson, the new Highlands & Islands Development Manager for the Federation of Small Businesses. We discussed current and future business issues in the area, and some of the opportunities for the FSB’s voice to play a role in the transitioning of the area economy. With an already strong Chamber of Commerce in Caithness the challenge will be to ensure complementary roles, but we agreed that there a number of areas in which the FSB can add value across key sectors.