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Focus North Conference ’23

Focus North Conference 2023

An interactive event exploring the exciting economic opportunities in the North of Mainland Scotland.

Keynote Address – Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport.

Master of ceremonies Nicky Marr – Broadcaster, magazine editor, event host, columnist and writer.

A packed agenda which will also include:

  • Speakers covering opportunities in The Offshore Wind Industry; The Space Industry; Hydrogen production; Tourism and Hospitality; Natural Capital; and more
  • Findings from recent research which highlights what key regional demographics see as important for economic growth
  • An interactive panel session discussing the regional economic opportunities and challenges
  • An update on the evolution of the Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership to become Focus North

8th February 2023 – Weigh Inn Thurso: 09:30 – 16:00.

Event Programme

Time Activity Location
0930 – 10:00 Registration and Tea & Coffee Lounge Bar – Weigh Inn Hotel
1000 – 1010 Welcome Function suite
1010 – 1025 Keynote address
(Video address)
Michael Matheson – Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport
Function suite
1025 – 1045 Introduction to Focus North
Our purpose, regional background, and the need for change.
Simon Middlemas OBE – Focus North Independent Chair
Function suite
1045 – 1100 Focus North Masterplan
The opportunities and how we will deliver
Peter Faccenda – Focus North Programme Manager
Function suite
1100 – 1140 Tea & coffee
Opportunity to network and visit stands on various topics to inform and engage.
Function Suite / Conservatory / Lounge bar
1140 – 1155 Sustainability
Developing a Sustainable future for the area
Magnus Davidson – DSRL Socioeconomic Manager
Function suite
1155 – 1210 Offshore wind
Floating offshore wind – the opportunities
Richard Copeland – Programme Director, Pentland floating offshore wind farm
Function Suite
1210 – 1225 Hydrogen
Greg MacIntosh
Hydrogen Industry
Function Suite
1225 – 1230 Summary and close of the morning session Function Suite
1230 – 1315 Lunch Conservatory
1315 – 1320 Reconvene Function Suite
1320 – 1325 Video Address by Maree Todd – MSP Caithness Sutherland and Ross Function Suite
1325 – 1340 Space Hub Sutherland
Opportunities in the Space Industry
David Howie
Function Suite
1340 – 1355 Flow Country
Green finance for peatland restoration & update on UNESCO world heritage site bid
Graham Neville – Area Manager, NatureScot
Function Suite
1355 – 1410 Higher and Further Education
Role in future in a thriving local economy and its communities
Debbie Murray – Principal UHI North Highland College
Function Suite
1410 – 1440 Tea & coffee
Opportunity to network and visit stands on various topics to inform and engage
Function Suite / Conservatory / Lounge bar
1440 – 1455 Tourism
The future opportunities that tourism can bring
Cathy Earnshaw – Destination Strategy Manager, Venture North
Function suite
1455 – 1510 Worldwide Experiences in economic transition
Diversifying and capturing opportunities
Dr Rick Robinson (he/his) FBCS CITP FRSA AoU – Global Principal, Connected, Secure & Smart Places – Jacobs Limited
Function suite
1510 – 1540 Panel session Chaired by Nicky Marr
Opportunity to quiz panel members: –
  • Stuart Black – Chief Executive, HIE
  • Raymond Bremner – Leader, Highland Council
  • Trudy Morris – Chief Executive, Caithness Chamber of Commerce
  • Debbie Murray – Principal, UHI North Highland College
Function suite
1540 – 1550 Next steps
Simon Middlemas OBE
Function suite
1550 – 1600 Summary and event close
Nicky Marr
Function suite

Speakers & Panel Members


  • MC Nicky Marr
  • Michael Matheson MSP, Video Address
  • Magnus Davidson
  • Richard Copeland
  • Greg MacIntosh
  • Maree Todd MSP, video address
  • David Howie
  • Graham Neville
  • Debbie Murray
  • Cathy Earnshaw
  • Dr Rick Robinson


  • Stuart Black
  • Raymond Bremner
  • Trudy Morris
  • Debbie Murray