Fife businesses set to benefit from pioneering Data-Driven Innovation programme

Fife businesses have started on a journey that will enable them to reap the vast benefits of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) programme that is set to boost economic growth. Business leaders and managers from across Fife recently attended an industry event on how best to drive improvement through data on 26 February, at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel, Inverkeithing.

 

Jarmo Eskelinen, Director of the Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) initiative and Gordon Mole, Head of Service – Business & Employability, Fife Council

Delegates were given new insights into how data can expand the contribution of research to the region’s economy, and increase entrepreneurial activity. Fife businesses were also shown how companies are already using data technologies to enhance commercial performance and the profound impact  data innovation is making across diverse sectors.

 

Jarmo Eskelinen, Director of the Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) initiative, shared his experience of working with businesses, universities and city leaders in the UK and Finland to drive improvement and tackle their growth challenges with data.

 

The 15- year £661m Data-Driven Innovation programme is a key part of the City Region Deal, and is designed to reach out to the whole City Region, so that businesses, public sector bodies and other organisations can use data to improve productivity and develop new products and services.

 

The University of Edinburgh is collaborating with Heriot-Watt University to create five DDI ‘hubs’ targeting 10 industry sectors across the public, private and third sectors – from creative industries and healthcare to fintech and robotics. The ambitious programme is designed transform the city region into the Data Capital of Europe through better data skills. It aims to train 100,000 people in data skills over the next decade, from computer science specialists to traditional jobs that will increasingly use data.

 

Gordon Mole, Head of Service- Business and Employability, Fife Council, said: “We are starting to explore the potential for Data Driven Innovation to improve our region’s economy by creating more and better jobs, improving services, while helping some companies to start-up and others to grow.

 

“This ground-breaking City Region Deal Data-Driven Innovation initiative is enabling a diverse range of organisations to develop and test new services to meet the needs of our communities.

 

“A number of businesses looked into how  data can ensure continuous improvement in your business, and drive economic growth, social change and public services.”

 

Jarmo Eskelinen, Director of the Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) initiative, said: “The DDI Programme is committed to supporting local businesses as they experiment and embed data driven innovation into their business processes. This pilot project will allow Fife Council and the University of Edinburgh to support the input of cutting-edge research and expertise into Fife-based businesses, through a new integrated approach to innovation funding support. There is already interest from other City Region local authority partners to trial the approach if this pilot is successful.”

 

Through this, and other events, the City Region Deal will ensure that organisations from across the region fully benefit from the fast-developing field of Data-Driven Innovation and drive innovation through big data and artificial intelligence.

 

It is estimated that Scotland needs around 13,000 extra workers each year with data skills as the workplace transforms. Together, the two universities will increase the provision of data science teaching for their students, and support schools and colleges across the region to provide digital skills teaching and training. The region’s supercomputing capabilities will also be strengthened with investment in a data analysis facility, which will help 1,000 organisations use data to innovate.

 

Companies attending the event included CoorsTek Ltd, Diageo, FLEXcon, Subsea International Ltd, Scott Group, Interface and the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS).

 

For more information about the programme and how you could get involved, email Morag Millar, Fife Council’s Strategic Growth & City Deal Programme Manager – morag.millar@fife.gov.uk

Fife paper bag specialist makes £3 million investment

Smith Anderson – the UK’s largest manufacturer of paper bags – has invested £3 million in state-of-the-art machinery to increase capacity at its factory in Kirkcaldy.

 

The investment, which includes a £450,000 Regional Selective Assistance grant from Scottish Enterprise, will allow the company to increase capacity and target new customers.

Smith Anderson, founded in 1859 with the purchase of the Fettykil Paper Mill in Leslie, will create 22 new jobs as part of an investment project, ensuring it remains the market-leading paper bag manufacturer in both Scotland and Europe.

 

Speaking after a visit to the company yesterday (Wednesday 26 February), Scottish Government Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, Jamie Hepburn said: “Not only will this grant support jobs in Fife, it will also allow Smith Anderson to achieve more cost-effective production and increase their capacity, thanks to thie new start-of-the-art machinery.

 

“It’s crucial that we continue to invest in our manufacturing industry and support innovation across Scotland to grow the economy, which we’re doing through the £65 million National Manufacturing Institute Scotland initiative.”

 

The machinery investment will allow Smith Anderson to deliver even more cost-effective production whilst increasing foundational machine capacity and operational output.

 

It will also allow the company, which now employs 243 staff, to target new customers as well as ensuring it meets the constantly increasing demands of its existing clients.

 

Smith Anderson’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael Longstaffe, said: “After a number of extremely challenging years, during which we continued to invest, we can now celebrate the arrival of this new equipment.  It consolidates our European market-leading position, encourages growth and supports the hard work and dedication we enjoy from what is a fabulous ‘Team Smith Anderson’.

 

“I am extremely proud of the company, what we have achieved and how well we have been supported by Scottish Enterprise in this process.”

 

Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) funding is a discretionary grant aimed at helping projects that will create or protect jobs in Scotland.  Click for more information and to find out if you are eligible to apply.

 

 

Longannet redevelopment moves forward as council welcomes TALGO UK

Fife Council welcomed  Spanish train manufacturer TALGO UK  at a community event at Kincardine Community Centre on 19 February.

 

From L to R Cllr David Alexander, John Veitch (MD of TALGO UK), Shirley-Anne Sommerville MSP, Carlos de Palacio (President & Chairman of TALGO UK) and Cllr David Ross.

The company, which continues to make plans for a major train manufacturing plant at Longannet, showcased one of TALGO’s 205kph coaches, featuring world-beating and unique ‘Rodal’ technology.

 

In October 2019, TALGO signed a jointly agreed framework with Scottish Enterprise and Transport Scotland to establish Longannet as a manufacturing base for TALGO UK.

 

Fife Council Co-Leader, Cllr David Ross, said: “The Longannet site is nationally significant and critically important locally. TALGO UK’s plans build upon the work of the Longannet Taskforce, whose focus has been to support the wider regeneration of the area following the power station’s closure in 2016.

 

“This location, which has driven past industrial revolutions, will once again be a catalyst towards business activity that drives a renewed innovation-led economy.”

 

TALGO UK intends to reinvigorate the UK supply-chain and source from it wherever possible.  TALGO’s ‘True Manufacturing’ approach means that, instead of assembling from kits of parts from overseas, a UK supply-chain is used.  This protects more local jobs and keeps more money in the local, regional and UK economies.

 

TALGO UK is keen to ensure that the benefits of TALGO’s unique technology is better appreciated, and that local people are aware of the potential opportunities in the area.

 

Fife Council Co-Leader, Cllr David Alexander, added: “Fife Council welcomes this latest step forward in creating employment and economic opportunities in Kincardine and beyond.

 

“Approximately 74 hectares of the site are available for investors into the Kingdom and will boost the economy within South and West Fife and across the wider region.

 

“Around 1,000 highly skilled jobs are expected to be created at Longannet. The Longannet site and its infrastructure connections will also give rise to significant opportunities across the wider area.”

 

The plans to regenerate the site of Scotland’s last coal-fuelled power station also support the Fife Council’s wider aim of reducing carbon emissions.

 

TALGO is bringing its technology to the UK, as part of a programme to explain new technologies, to transfer knowledge to the UK and to boost UK domestic capacity for Research and Development.

Making Glenrothes a Living Wage Town Project shows success

A recent survey has shown that the number of employees in the Glenrothes area earning below the real Living Wage has fallen.

 

According to the lastest results from the ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, in 2019 the number of employees paid less than the real Living Wage in Fife as a whole fell by 7.4%.

 

Councillor Fiona Grant and other members of the Action Group launch the ‘Making Glenrothes a Living Wage Town’ campaign in August 2019.

The Glenrothes Area saw an even greater reduction, the number of employees earning below the real Living Wage falling by 11% compared with the year before.

 

Councillor Fiona Grant, a member of the Glenrothes Living Wage Action Group said:  “I’m delighted the recently released statistics show that the Glenrothes area has performed comparatively well.  It is a positive indication that the campaign to Make Glenrothes a Living Wage Town is having an impact.

 

“Over the relatively short time since the campaign began in August 2019, the number of employers who have been accredited as real Living Wage employers has increased to 18.

 

“This represents increased wages for around 1,000 employees in the Glenrothes area.

 

“It’s great to see the wide range of businesses who have committed themselves to supporting their employees and community.  They include FLEXcon, Kingdom Community Bank, Blueprint Recruitment, DPS Group, McDonald Water Storage and many others.

 

“If you are an employer interested in joining the scheme, go to https://our.fife.scot/fairerfife/livingwage/ to find out more.”

 

Blueprint Recruitment John McBain, Director  said: “This accreditation provides Blueprint Recruitment with a recognised standard which shows we are not only committed, but we practice what we preach. We are passionate about living up to our mission statement to ‘deliver excellence and set the market standard’.

 

“Glenrothes is the first town in the UK to take this innovative approach and it really demonstrates how a small town can lead the way. Local businesses like Blueprint Recruitment play a key role in making our community a great place to work.  We’re proud to be one of them.”

 

Jamie Stewart Managing Director McDonald Water Storage said: “Over the last ten years we have successfully navigated the challenges facing the industry and our employees have played a significant role in this achievement.

 

“Quality remains at the forefront of all our activities and our staff must be good at what they do because we supply some very prestigious companies. It’s important that they are rewarded well and that they feel their skills are valued.  Becoming an accredited Living Wage employer demonstrates our commitment to our staff and will also encourage similar companies in our sector to consider becoming Living Wage employers.”

 

 

 

Businesses invited to input to new masterplan for Glenrothes town centre

Businesses in the centre of Glenrothes are invited to have their say in the development of a new masterplan for regenerating the town centre.

 

Businesses can input to the masterplan in two ways:

 

  • Attending a drop-in workshop event taking place between 2pm and 7pm on Friday 21 February in the Enterprise Hub Fife, 1 Falkland Gate, Glenrothes.  Members of the design team will be on hand to answer questions and discuss ideas and there will be a series of presentations and focussed discussions along with displays. Click to download the draft programme of discussion sessions.

 

 

 

Work starts on Fife’s flagship City Region Deal Programme

Fife’s flagship Industrial Innovation Investment Programme is now taking shape as construction work starts on nine new business units at Queensway Industrial Estate in Glenrothes.

 

Fife’s ten-year £48.4 million Industrial Innovation Investment Programme will deliver much-needed new industrial buildings, offices and serviced sites in key locations in Mid and South Fife.

 

The Programme is expected to create 1,000 new skilled permanent jobs and almost 600 short-term construction jobs over a period of 15 years.

 

The Programme forms part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, a partnership of Scottish and UK Governments, local authorities and universities that will transform the regional economy. Through the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, regional partners will secure more than £1.3 billion of investment for the area over the next 15 years.

 

The programme is already boosting the economy through construction activity.

 

Scottish Government Infrastructure Secretary Michael Matheson MSP said:  “Since 2014, we have committed £1.8 billion to City Deals and associated investment to drive growth that will deliver significant and lasting economic benefits for individuals, businesses and communities across the country.

 

“These deals benefit Scotland as a whole, creating thousands of jobs and upskilling local labour markets.  They truly have the power to build on the area’s significant strengths and expertise, as we are witnessing first-hand in Fife, with the start of this flagship industrial innovation investment programme.”

 

The City Region Deal is ensuring local jobs for local people.  Michael McManus, aged 19, from Glenrothes who is in his first year of a Modern Apprenticeship with Bell Group Kirkcaldy – a branch of the UK’s largest commercial painting and decorating contractor –  is set to work on the site.

 

Michael said: “Through my apprenticeship, I have been able to work on, and improve, my painting and decorating skills.  I’m confident in my role and I have learnt new skills.  In the future I’ll continue to improve to be the best painter and decorator I can possibly be.”

 

Cllr Fiona Grant, Convener of the Council’s Glenrothes Area Committee said: “The units are a huge step forward in offering businesses accommodation fit for the future and will help boost economic development across Mid-Fife.  The development includes a connection to the district heating plant, a new access road and car parking on land to the north of Flemington Road.”

 

Cllr Altany Craik, Convener of the Council’s Economy, Tourism, Planning and Transportation Committee, said: “Our focus in Fife is firmly on fairer economic growth, where everyone benefits from good employment opportunities and regional investments.  The work starting in Glenrothes is the first visible sign of the many positive changes that the City Region Deal will bring.”

Levenmouth Local Energy Project Business Breakfast

Find out how to get involved in the  Levenmouth Local Energy Project at a Business Breakfast on 28 March.

 

Businesses in the Levenmouth area are invited to attend the event which which is taking place from 8.30-10.30am at the Fife Renewables Innovation Centre in Methil.

 

Organised by Fife Council and Green Business Fife, as part of a pilot project to reduce heat and energy consumption in the area, the event will also give you the opportunity to get free advice on how to reduce your energy and waste costs.

 

Resource Efficient Scotland will be on hand to outline the services it can offer, including its SME loan fund which is currently offering a 15% cash back.

 

Cllr Vettraino, convener of Fife Council’s Environment, Protective Services & Community Safety Committee, said: “This event is a great opportunity for Levenmouth businesses to come along, make new contacts and learn how they can reduce their business energy costs from expert Resource Efficient Scotland Advisers.”

 

Click for further details about the event and to book your place or email info@greenbusinessfife.co.uk

 

Click for more information on the Levenmouth Local Energy Project or contact carlene.simpson@fife.gov.uk

New Training and Enterprise Hub opens for business

A new £500,000 state-of-the-art Training and Enterprise Hub in Kincardine is boosting the area’s economic prospects.

 

The Hub is a ‘game-changing moment’ for the Coalfields Regeneration Trust which, for almost 20 years, has been supporting and improving the lives of the half-a-million people who live in Scotland’s coalfields communities.

 

The Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) invested £250,000 of its own funds to buy and renovate the former Clydesdale Bank Building in Kirk Street, Kincardine, with Fife Council and the Scottish Government providing match funding from the Scottish Government Local Economic Development Capital Stimulus Grant Fund, supported by the Longannet Task Force.

 

The Hub is now the CRT’s national headquarters and the base for a ten-strong team of staff who are working to help tackle the loss of jobs and economic benefits from the closure of Kincardine Power Station.

 

From spring of this year, the Hub will also be a business support and enterprise location for Fife Council and Business Gateway Fife.

 

This will allow the council and other organisations to deliver events, training and other support services from the Hub to new and existing businesses in the area.

 

Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, said: “I am delighted that the Kincardine Training and Enterprise Hub is now open for business.  This facility, part-funded through the Scottish Government’s Local Economic Development Capital Grant Fund, will be an excellent asset to enterprising individuals, start-ups and businesses with growth aspirations.  It will also provide the Enterprise Hub’s tenants with access to a modern facility that will encourage collaboration, networking and business growth.”

 

Councillor David Ross, Co-Leader of Fife Council and Co-Chair of the Longannet Task Force said: “I am pleased that the Coalfields Regeneration Trust has been able to support the Longannet Task Force and Fife Council in delivering local projects including this training and enterprise hub within Kincardine.

 

“The partnerships forged with organisations like CRT allow Fife Council, Business Gateway Fife and partners to support local people, employees and businesses to reduce the economic impact of the closure of Kincardine Power Station.”

 

Councillor David Alexander, Co-Leader of Fife Council added: “This new Hub is a huge step in the right direction for the economy in and around Kincardine, and is just one of the projects being driven by the council to boost innovation and provide modern business and industrial premises.”

 

For more information, including the facilities and services provided by the Hub and how to book, email crt.hub@coalfields-regen.org.uk

 

 

 

 

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University of Dundee to provide new Graduate Apprenticeships

The University of Dundee is one of the providers of a major new programme of Graduate Apprenticeships launched by Skills Development Scotland (SDS).

 

A total of 110 places are to be funded by SDS,  with the University working in partnership with employers to provide qualifications in subjects covering Business, Civil and Manufacturing Engineering, IT and Software.

 

Businesses can either recommend an existing employee to undertake a Graduate Apprenticeship or take on a new member of staff.

 

The scheme allows Graduate Apprentices to combine their tuition at Dundee while working at an organisation involved in their relevant sector of study.

 

Kirsty Scott, Industrial Liaison Officer at Dundee said: “Graduate Apprenticechips are making huge contributions to employers by retaining staff and skills in the local economy. By unveiling our largest number of Graduate Apprenticeships to date, we at the University of Dundee are illustrating our commitment to our local community and helping more people fulfil their career ambitions.

 

The University will offer places in five courses from September 2019:

 

  • Business management (including Financial Services)
  • Engineering, Design and Manufacturing
  • Civil Engineering
  • IT: Management for Business
  • IT: Software

 

For more information, visit the University of Dundee’s website.

 

Research by the University of St Andrews could help in disease diagnosis

New research led by the University of St Andrews could hold the key to the diagnosis of the early stages of various diseases and lead to new drug discoveries.

The research, published in Nature Communications, has developed an innovative new way to hold samples using sound whilst they are gently imaged using light. The ability to hold and image objects will have a profound impact across biomedical sciences, especially those focused on disease identification, neuroscience and developmental biology.

 

Professor Kishan Dholakia from the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy said: ” This is a new way to perform drug-based studies for cardiovascular disease and developmental biology.  We anticipate this approach can also be used for high throughput drug discovery, an important topic for future healthcare.”

 

Click to read the full story.