Islands Growth Deal extends RGU’s entrepreneurial expertise

Tuesday 24 January 2023

Lerwick, Shetland
A £100m deal was signed on Friday 20 January by UK and Scottish Government Ministers and the Council Leaders of Orkney, Shetland, and the Outer Hebrides to enhance the economic prosperity of the three island groups.

The landmark agreement aims to create up to 1,300 jobs and £393m of investment and spans across 16 main projects under three key strategic themes: a low carbon future; supporting growth and future industries; and thriving sustainable communities.

Robert Gordon University (RGU) will draw upon its expertise and experience in entrepreneurship, particularly in rural communities, to play a central role in the TalEntEd Islands Programme, a £5.9m initiative that will focus on fast-tracking the decarbonisation of the islands through opportunities in education, skills, entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, and commercialisation to support an increase of sustainable employment.

Led by the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), the TalEntEd Islands Programme is referred to in the wider Islands Deal as a ‘joint islands programme’ and applies to all three island local authority areas.

The programme partnership includes representation from the three universities with a physical footprint in the islands including Heriot-Watt University and RGU as well as regional and national enterprise and skills agencies, including Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Skills Development Scotland (SDS).

Chris Moule, Head of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at RGU, was in Orkney for the formal deal announcement and is excited about what the future holds for the people in the Islands and the partners involved in the Islands Growth Deal.

He said: “This deal and RGU’s involvement in it represents a significant step in both the economic, social and cultural development of the region and transition to net zero in Orkney, Shetland, and the Outer Hebrides. Bringing together these partners behind key strategic themes will make a positive impact on developing skills and talent across the islands, including entrepreneurial skills.

“Our Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group has a proven track record of driving economic growth, creating new businesses and jobs, and equipping young people with a diverse range of skills to make a difference.

“We look forward to working with all of the programme partners to address the challenges currently being faced by the Islands and increase opportunities for work-based learning, entrepreneurship, technology commercialisation while ensuring people are benefiting through a just transition to net zero.”

The partnership is the latest in RGU’s increasing strategic and collaborative commitment to widening access, both regionally and nationally, to further advance student learning experience; research and knowledge exchange; and economic, social, and cultural development.

As well as regular developments in Orkney and the launch of RGU Sustainable Futures for rural North East businesses, in November the University also announced a partnership with the Government of Jersey to provide education for nurses and midwives on the island.

On the Islands Growth Deal, Ivan McKee, Scottish Government Business Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, said: “This Growth Deal will be a game-changing initiative for our islands – enabling sustainable economic growth and delivering new and internationally significant port infrastructure that will play an important role in achieving net zero targets.”

Image is of Lerwick, Shetland, by John Coutts

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