There are a number of reasons why RGU has decided to focus on delivering solutions in Orkney.
There’s a real entrepreneurial and innovative spirit on Orkney and this is actively supported by local authorities and regional bodies.
There are also a number of challenges facing the islands such as depopulation, an ageing population, increasing social isolation, energy inefficient housing, difficulties in delivering social and health care and the increasing cost of providing services between towns, the rural Mainland and the outer Islands.
On a much more positive note, there is an abundance of cultural heritage and a strong sense of community and identity. Orkney is a place where we can see RGU’s research offering fitting well, and by working closely with local partners, we can deliver transformational and meaningful results.
Working in partnership with Orkney Islands Council (OIC), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the local community, the Orkney Project will establish a transformational research hub in Stromness to drive and support collaboration and innovation.
Research activities will be grouped into three broad clusters: smart islands, creative innovation, and sustainable quality of life.
Already, a number of research, commercial and student-related projects are being discussed with teams working on proposals and seeking funding. The initial pool of projects is extremely varied.
We work with OIC and Hitrans to further promote electric and green mobility in Orkney and to explore the potential of autonomous vehicles for remote islands.
Professor Gokay Deveci is looking at dealing with an ageing population and housing demand, including incorporating artificial intelligence in housing design. This marries well with Dr Kay Cooper’s work on community-led care.
Professor Sarah Pedersen is investigating the history of Orcadian tweed, looking for ways to bring this back to the market, while Dr John Isaacs is looking at effective ways to digitally embed Orkney’s stories in the products sold by, and associated with, the Islands.
Craig Leith and Dr Rachael Ironside are investigating the tourism industry on Orkney and in Rachael’s case working with a local couple to bring Orkney’s folklore and stories to life.
Professor Richard Laing, another Academic Lead for the Orkney Project, will be leading a group, including colleagues from UHI’s Archaeology Institute, in a project to collect 3D scan images around the Stromness area. This data will be used to develop further collaborative funding bids and will allow the RGU Orkney Project team and partners to conduct a series of community engagement and educational outreach events.
On the commercial side, Fiona Campbell, one of our Business Development Managers, is signing companies up to RGU’s graduate apprenticeships scheme.
Our work in Orkney is a coalition of the willing. We’re focusing on deeds not words. It’s very much about rolling your sleeves up, getting stuck in and making things happen.