RGU supports North East tourism and food & drink sectors

Monday 24 January 2022

Image shows campus shot of RGU
Robert Gordon University is launching a suite of entrepreneurship courses, specifically targeted to support tourism and food & drink businesses in the north east of Scotland.

The new programmes, starting next month, include a Tourism Entrepreneurship course and a Food & Drink Entrepreneurship course. They will support sectors that are key to the area and which have been particularly impacted by the pandemic.  

The courses are being funded by the Sottish Government through the Scottish Funding Council as part of the North East Economic Recovery and Skills Fund (NEERSF).

The practical short courses, aimed at existing freelancers, micro and small businesses in the north east, will run over eight weeks and focus on building resilience and helping businesses adapt to the changing environment, manage costs, offer new products and services and uncover new markets.

The focus on tourism and food and drink sectors reflects the University’s determination to help restore confidence in industries that have been so adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and are key to the overall recovery of the region.

The Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce poll on the impact of business restrictions on local companies, published on 10 January, highlights that almost one-third (31%) of those surveyed, fear there is either a moderate or high risk that their business could collapse. Their concerns are echoed in a national survey carried out by the Scottish Tourism Alliance, which show that one in three tourism hospitality businesses in Scotland, fear they may close in the coming year.

Donella Beaton, Vice Principal for Economic Development at RGU says: “The north east has an excellent reputation for tourism and food and drink yet, as the latest tourism industry survey highlights, many businesses are concerned about their survival as they respond to the economic impact of the ongoing pandemic.

“RGU is committed to helping the tourism and food and drink sectors in the region. These new courses offer practical support to businesses to examine new opportunities, enhance their skills and restore confidence as they develop new processes and seek new product ranges and markets.

“The north-east of Scotland accounts for a fifth of Scotland’s food and drink output and employs over 22,000 people and it is vital that we offer them our support. Many of the companies are very small but each is critical to the regional ecosystem and that North East brand. We are therefore pleased to work with other regional partners through the North East Economic Recovery and Skills Fund (NEERSF) to support skills and economic recovery in these sectors.”

The new programmes are part of a suite of entrepreneurship programmes being launched by the University which already includes a Creative Entrepreneurship Programme which brings together expertise from the University’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group(EIG) and Look Again at Gray’s School of Art, to equip creative practitioners with the knowledge and skills to grow successful businesses. 

The courses will draw on RGU’s strong links with industry and include a host of guest speakers including Yvonne Cook, Head of Tourism Development at VisitAberdeenshire.

Chris Foy, CEO at VisitAberdeenshire said: “VisitAberdeenshire looks forward to participating in RGU’s new entrepreneurship programme which is one of the ways we can help the vitally important tourism and hospitality sector in its recovery from the impact of the pandemic.”

Ross McLean, from Newtonhill in Aberdeen, is founder of Poco Roast, a speciality coffee company, who successfully completed RGU’s Accelerator programme, launching his company in 2018. Ross says; “While the region recovers post-pandemic and continues to diversify beyond energy, it’s great to see a programme focussed on supporting small and medium sized businesses in the tourism and food & drink sectors to develop and grow. I really benefitted from the insights and mentorship I received as part of RGU’s Accelerator programme when I started my business, and I am sure this new programme will be just as beneficial to those already working in these sectors.”

For more information on our short courses, how to apply and to find out about one of the funded places visit: 

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