Enhanced support available for fast growing companies

Scottish Enterprise will offer an enhanced service of support to Scotland’s fast growing businesses that have the potential to reach turnover upwards of £100 million.


The Start2Scale service will target fast growing innovative start-up and early-stage companies as well as existing companies with ambitious plans to scale.  It will provide an intensive, tailored service focusing on the key drivers of growth: international sales, investment and talent acquisition and development.



The announcement was made by Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, at Venturefest 2017 in Glasgow yesterday.


He said, “We know that stimulating the development of, and supporting, more high growth companies with the ambition and potential to grow their turnover to over £100 million is one of the most powerful drivers of growth.  Evidence from Scotland, and benchmark economies such as Germany, shows these mid-sized businesses are the most dynamic group of companies which are most likely to boost innovation, increase productivity, exports, international competitiveness and to deliver sustainable, well paid new jobs.


“According to a UK scale-up report, boosting just one per cent of our scale-up business population could create 238,000 jobs and £38 billion of GVA across the UK within three years and we want to see Scotland pursue such an objective.  That’s why our Programme for Government committed to working with our enterprise agencies and private sector partners to create an expanded and collaborative ‘scale-up’.  Our enterprise agencies, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, continue to enhance their assistance to businesses on their fast growth journey as part of the work on scale-up of ‘Scotland: CAN DO’, our Scotland-wide innovation forum, and today’s announcement marks a significant step forward in that journey.”


Read the full story. 

Babcock reports healthy order book

Shares in engineering giant Babcock rose strongly yesterday (20 September) after the firm announced its revenues were on track to meet full-year expectations.


The company’s Rosyth base is one of the largest manufacturing and repair facilities in the UK and has been the focus for the assembly of the Royal Navy’s new multi-million pound aircraft carrier fleet,


An update issued by the company announced that 89% of revenue now in place for 2017-18 and around 57% for 2018-19.


Looking ahead, the update said: “The group continues to maintain a healthy financial position, with growth in line with its expectations for 2017-18. Whilst revenue in the Marine sector is expected to be slightly lower than in the previous financial year, due to the stepdown in the volumes from the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier programme and the phased introduction of contracts, but this is expected to be offset by growth in the other sectors.


“In our marine sector we have begun to work on the £360 million contract to be the technical authority and support partner for the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, and Type 45 destroyers.”


The company has also secured a seven-year contract for the design, production and delivery of weapons handling and launch equipment for the South Korean Jangbogo III submarine.


It added that the publication earlier this month of the UK Government’s National Shipbuilding Strategy would create potential opportunities for Babcock and the wider UK supply chain.


Click to read the trading update.



Plans submitted for Glenrothes data centre project

Plans for constructing Scotland’s largest and most energy efficient data centre in Glenrothes have reached a major milestone.


A planning application has been submitted for permission to construct the state-of-the-art facility at the Queensway Industrial Estate.


Ross Mackenzie, Lead Officer (Investment) at Fife Council said: “Submission of the detailed planning application for a data centre at Queensway Technology and Business Park marks another significant milestone for what will be one of the first facilities of its kind to be fully powered by renewable energy.


“The facility will draw power from the adjacent RWE Innogy biomass plant which is the largest built to date in the UK.


“This will be an important piece of business infrastructure that Fife can offer companies looking for improved business performance through cloud computing and to companies using Big Data to identify new business trends and opportunities, particularly in financial services and the energy industries.”


It is anticipated that the centre could provide employment for more than 300 people during the construction phase and 50 full-time posts once the centre opens.


Click to read the full article in The Courier.

Calling all Fife businesses – interested in leasing a hydrogen vehicle?

Fife and Perth & Kinross Councils are submitting a joint funding application for a publicly accessible hydrogen refuelling station at Halbeath Park & Ride.


As part of the funding submission to the Hydrogen for Transport Programme, there must be demand for at least 30 hydrogen vehicles. Businesses that are interested in using hydrogen vehicles are invited to get in touch with a note of interest. 


If this is of interest to you and your business, please contact Carlene Simpson at Carlene.Simpson@fife.gov.uk by Friday 6 October 2017 for information on leasing and purchase costs for Toyota Mirais, HyKangoo vans and hydrogen transits.


At this stage only notes of interest are required so there is no legal commitment.


Levenmouth Community Energy Project On Track

The Levenmouth Community Energy Project is well on track ahead of its official launch later this year.


Since June, the site at Methil, operated by Bright Green Hydrogen, and Fife Council’s site at Bankhead have been able to maximise the use of renewable power following the completion of Toshiba’s control system.


At Methil, wind power and solar power is used to generate green hydrogen, which is stored on site. This hydrogen is then used for supplying energy to the surrounding business park, dispensing into vehicles and providing hydrogen for Fife Council’s Bankhead refuelling station, in Glenrothes.


The Council’s hydrogen refuelling station is unique as it is the first station in the UK to be wholly owned and operated by a Council.


The Levenmouth Project’s fleet of 17 hybrid low emission vehicles includes two hydrogen Refuse Collection Vehicles, owned and operated by Fife Council, which are believed to be a world first. All the vehicles have access to the hydrogen refuelling points at both sites, reducing emissions from transport in Fife.


This highly innovative project, which is delivered by key partners Bright Green Hydrogen, Toshiba and Fife Council, has provided the perfect location for Toshiba to engage its technology with innovative green hydrogen applications.


It also demonstrates how locally produced hydrogen can be used to reduce both CO2 and toxic emissions, which is a vital part of meeting Scotland’s climate change targets. It is also hoped that the project will increase economic growth and reduce fuel poverty in the area.


The project showcases to other business parks a route to operating from a renewable microgrid and provides the opportunity for local businesses and community organisations to have access to zero emission vehicles.

Apply for up to £10,000 towards the cost of employee training from new fund

Launched by the Scottish Government on 7 September 2017, the Flexible Workforce Development Fund allows companies paying the UK Government’s Apprenticeship Levy  – companies with an annual salary bill of over £3 million – to claim for up to £10,000 towards the cost of employee training to up-skill and re-skill their workforce.


All levy-paying employers in Scotland across the public, private and third sector can apply for this funding, in addition to any apprenticeship support they currently receive and Individual Training Accounts (ITAs) used by individual employees to develop their skills for employment.


This fund may be particularly beneficial in addressing skills gaps and training needs of the older workforce or those in low skilled jobs.


Fife College can support you through the entire application process – call 0344 248 0132 or email sales@fife.ac.uk for more information.


Applications for the fund, which will be allocated to employers on a first-come, first-served basis,  must be submitted by 15 December 2017.

Profits rise for Brand-Rex

Fife cabling company, Brand-Rex, saw its pre-tax profits increase by 17% last year as it continued to target international markets.

The group designs and manufactures high-speed copper and fibre-based cable and connectivity systems for IT and data communications.


Headquartered in Glenrothes, the company saw its pre-tax profit increase from £3.5 million to £4.2m for the year ending December 31 2016. Turnover remained static at £60.6m.


For the full story visit here.


A new plan for a fairer Fife

This week the Council’s Policy and Co-ordination Committee focused on poverty and inequality, and how the Council plans to work with partners and communities to shape local services for a better, fairer Fife.


Based on significant research and local consultations, the Fife Partnership has drafted a single 10-year plan to streamline its approach and make it easier to understand. The main aim is to put people and communities at the centre of all decision making. And we want to know what you think of it – take a look and leave your comments online.


Council Co-Leaders, Councillors David Alexander and David Ross, who are also Committee Conveners and Co-Chairs of the Fife Partnership, welcomed the plan, which will now guide the work of all local agencies.

Fife Council Co-Leaders with the Plan for Fife


Cllr Alexander commented: “This plan will bring local public services, voluntary organisations and communities together to work towards a set of common aims. Collectively we have vast resources and a wealth of knowledge – with united, focused effort, we can drive out inequality and improve lives.”


“We’re fiercely ambitious for Fife,” added Cllr Ross. “And we have to be, because right now far too many Fifers are living in poverty, and it’s just not right. Poverty isn’t someone else’s problem; it doesn’t just affect some individuals and families – it impacts on everyone. People can’t afford to pay their rent, they’re not spending in local shops and businesses, these in turn are shedding jobs or closing down, and our villages, towns and local services are suffering.


“We’re not aiming to be average, we want to really make a difference. We’re building on a good track record of partnership working and community engagement in Fife, but this plan is a commitment to do more, to do it better and to put fairness at the heart of everything we want to achieve.”


The Committee also heard about the Council’s response so far to the Fairer Fife Commission (which reported in November 2015). There’s a lot of work already underway. Behind the scenes Services are preparing to work in new ways and frontline staff have had poverty awareness training. On the ground, local projects have helped families feed their children over the summer holidays and new services are helping improve people’s mental health.


Cllr Alexander also welcomed new Scottish Government legislation which will place a duty on local authorities to reduce the negative impacts of socio-economic disadvantage, and pointed out that this means taking positive steps.


“A duty which will help us poverty-proof all our decisions can only be a good thing, especially with the spectre of Universal Credit and increased financial hardship looming for many Fifers.” he said. “But while we understand the challenges facing the Council and communities, we’re talking about a lot of progressive and positive action.”


“All over Fife we’re seeing sparks of activity and enthusiasm,” continued Cllr Alexander. “Local people want to get involved in helping their neighbours and making their community a better place to live. We’re going to work to give people more opportunity to have their voice heard; help decide how money should be spent in their area and how local services should be run, and help build people’s confidence and capability to take a more active role.


“The Tayport Community Hub is a great example of people turning aspirations for their own community into reality. The Committee just approved another £250,000 (on top of the £250,000 funding previously agreed by North East Fife Area Committee) to help the voluntary organisation turn a piece of derelict land into a hub to improve local community and sports facilities. We’re not just putting money in the pot – we’ll work in partnership with that community, hopefully transferring council-run services to the facility, supporting their venture and reducing our overall costs.”


The Council’s Co-Leaders also acknowledged the vital strategic role the Council has to play, both in delivering services directly and influencing the decisions of other organisations.


Cllr Ross said: “We’re actively working to create opportunities, employment and wealth.




“We’re promoting the Living Wage and apprenticeships, within the Council and in businesses across Fife. And the Edinburgh and South East City Deal will help build a stronger business community in south and mid Fife by investing millions in commercial property over the next 10 years, which could create some 2,000 extra jobs. Increased employment brings personal benefits; more money, better health – but also wider community benefits; thriving economy, reductions in antisocial behaviour and crime.


“But to tackle the root cause of inequality long-term, we’re also asking if more fundamental shifts are needed in society.


“Fife has led conversations about a universal basic income and councillors agreed that officers should work on a proposal for a pilot in Fife. But we must be realistic, this is a very complex issue which will take years of investigation and ground work. We couldn’t pursue the concept of a basic income our own, but now have the backing of several councils and the Scottish Government, to help develop feasibility studies and a business case. A basic income also implies changes to taxation and benefit systems, which would need UK Government co-operation.


“It’s far too early to say where a pilot might happen – we don’t even know if it will be the right thing to try. But it could be a game changer, so we’re taking it seriously, because we know we have to try new things and learn as we go.”


Concluded Cllr Alexander: “We will fight austerity by creating opportunities and delivering real improvements for everyone.


“The Partnership’s Plan for Fife is really your plan and it’s important that we hear what you think of it. Please take some time to read the plan and give us your views.”


The draft Plan for Fife doesn’t cover all the services provided by the organisations within the Fife Partnership, but sets out the Council’s ambitions under four key themes:

  • Opportunities for all
    Thriving places
    Inclusive growth and jobs
    Community – led services


For more information and to read the plan go to www.fifedirect.org.uk/letstalk where you can also leave comments. Councillors will agree the final version of the 10-year partnership plan in December.

Scottish Government launches new £10 million fund for skills training

Scotland’s employers can apply for part of a new £10 million fund to partner with colleges to deliver in-work skills training.


The Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF) is available to organisations across the private, public and third sectors who are subject to the UK Government’s Apprenticeship Levy.



The one-year pilot fund will focus on the up-skilling and re-skilling of existing employees of any age, with individual organisations able to apply for up to £10,000.


The FWDF was developed in line with the Scottish Government’s 2016 consultation on the UK Government’s Apprenticeship Levy, and is part of a range of support for Scottish Levy payers, which includes the expansion of our Modern Apprenticeship programme.


Launching the new fund, Minister for Employability and Skills Jamie Hepburn said:


“This unique pilot scheme will enable Scotland’s employers to make training and skills development available to their staff, addressing knowledge gaps and improving productivity.


“The Flexible Workforce Development Fund is part of Programme for Government, and an important element of our skills offer in Scotland.  It is part of our wider offer of training and support that provides a clear and distinctive response to the introduction of the UK Apprenticeship Levy.


“Training and skills development is beneficial for employees of all ages and levels and I would encourage all organisations subject to the levy in Scotland to get in touch with our colleges to learn more about the opportunities available to them.”


Click for information about the fund and to download an application form.

Entries invited for the 2018 Fife Business Awards

Entries are now open for the 2018 Fife Business Awards.


Organised by the Fife Chamber of Commerce with overall sponsorship from the Fife Economy Partnership, the awards are open to all businesses in Fife and the results will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony to be held at the Glen Pavilion in Dunfermline on Friday 23 March 2018.


There are 11 categories of awards (click for more information and to see the criteria for each award):

  • Best Performing Business (over 50 employees)
  • Best Performing Business (under 50 employees)
  • Developing the Young Workforce
  • Excellence in Food and Drink
  • Excellence in Customer Service
  • Excellence in People Development
  • Excellence in Tourism
  • Most Enterprising Start-up Company
  • Success through Innovation
  • Success through Sustainability
  • Success through UK and International Trade


For an application form  or to discuss sponsorship opportunities email fifebusinessawards@entourageuk.com or call 0141 887 6181.


The closing date for applications is Friday 27 October 2017.