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Weekly Update, 14th May 2012

I have been talking to Caithness Chamber, Wick Harbour Authority, Highland Council and HIAL this week about materials and key messages being used to promote the north at the All-Energy Exhibition & Conference in Aberdeen next Wednesday and Thursday. Local businesses and organisations will have stands in the exhibition, which is the largest renewable energy event in the UK. Last year over 8,000 visitors attended, with over 580 companies exhibiting. Caithness Chamber’s Invest Caithness initiative will have a stand, and a number of local companies will be participating.

Scottish Power Renewables, the company with the lease to develop a tidal power site at the Ness of Duncansby in the Pentland Firth is quoted in the press this week as reporting good progress with testing in Orkney of its preferred technology – a 1MW Andritz Hydro Hammerfest (formerly Hammerfest Strom) device. CNSRP’s Advisory Board has established a joint working group with Scottish Power Renewables, and we hope to issue a joint press release on this in the next two weeks. More at

Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise are planning a series of Research and Development funding calls that will offer funding support for project ideas that have the potential to reduce the cost of producing energy from offshore wind.  Assistance is available to businesses of all sizes and academic institutes throughout Scotland as well as companies planning to establish a base in Scotland. The first in the series of calls invites project ideas from both companies and academia that involve innovation in remote condition monitoring and control systems. Expressions of interest should be submitted by 29th June. More information from

Enabling Activities:
A major conference to be held in Inverness this month will bring together experts from marine energy industries. The “Common Water – Common Ground” event will encourage people from different offshore sectors to share knowledge. Attendees will include representatives from the oil and gas industry and those from the emerging renewables market. Organised by the University of the Highlands and Islands Energy Research Group, the conference will be the first of its kind in the region. Up to 200 delegates are expected to attend the two-day event which takes place at the Drumossie Hotel on 30 and 31 May. Delegates can book a place at online at, by emailing or by calling freephone 0800 032 8080. Tickets are £95 which includes attendance at all sessions, fringe events and the conference dinner on Wednesday 30 May.

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:
The Partnership’s Delivery Group met this week, and focused on progress with project-level priorities identified by partners, on which I will then update our Executive Board. The group also heard an update on progress at North Highland College by Debbie Gray, NHC’s Director of Enterprise & Innovation.
Thurso’s Escape Business Technologies has announced a further IT management contract success, this time with Nuclear Decommissioning Services Ltd. It’s a further indication of the potential for success in the business services sector.
Next week is Skills Development Scotland’s Scottish Apprenticeship week, and today’s (Friday’s) local paper carries a piece on local firm JGC Engineering & Technical Services’ 16 Modern Apprentices.
North Highland College is running an open day tomorrow (Saturday 19th May) at its Engineering Technology & Energy Centre (ETEC) from 10am til 4pm. There will be a chance to look round this state of the art facility and speak to staff about courses on offer.  A feature on the open day has been carried in the local press, and can be viewed at