Funding Call for Advanced Manufacturing Challenge Fund

Funding Call launched for £14 million fund to help firms compete globally.


The Advanced Manufacturing Challenge Fund (AMCF) invites public bodies, academic organisations and third sector organisations to enhance their existing equipment and training services to help businesses develop their manufacturing capabilities.


Grant funding will be distributed through competition, to support the creation of a national network of regionally-based initiatives.


The overall aim of the AMCF is for projects to be of a scale and level of ambition to have a significant impact on advancing the manufacturing capabilities of SMEs within Scotland and lead to long-term transformational change.


To launch the first funding call, Economy Secretary Derek Mackay visited Optos in Fife, a leading medical technology company that designs, develops and manufactures ultra-widefield retinal imaging devices.


Mr Mackay said:

“Scotland has an innovative and diverse manufacturing sector with world-class companies competing in international markets. However we need to make sure businesses of all sizes have the right tools and resources to lead the way in this rapidly evolving marketplace.

“This £14 million fund will provide free support to help small and medium sized businesses advance their research, develop new processes or products, and make their systems more efficient and effective. It will help to address some of the challenges manufacturers face when it comes to tapping into global markets, and provide access to training for their workforce.

“This investment will support our ambitions for Scotland to be a country inventing, designing, developing and manufacturing key products and technologies that will drive the world in decades to come.”


Information sessions are being held to help potential applicants on Tuesday 4th June in Edinburgh and Friday 14th June in Inverness.


More details on the information sessions and on how to apply are available here.

Contact Centre Firm Announced Plans to Open Flagship Office in Kirkcaldy.

Contact Centre, VeriCall, has said it plans to create more than 200 jobs over two years at the new office to be located at John Smith Business Park, Kirkcaldy.


The firm have also confirmed that the roles will be permanent and will be paid the Scottish Living Wage of £9 per hour.


The move is backed with a Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) grant of £1 million from Scottish Enterprise.  The Government agency provide RSA grants to fund projects that will create and safeguard employment in selected areas of Scotland.


Scottish Enterprise worked in conjunction with Fife Council to secure the move to Fife and brings a welcome jobs lift to the town.


Find out more about Scottish Enterprise’s RSA grants here.

Glenrothes Business Wins Top Award

The Leviton Network Solutions business unit was awarded the prestigious ‘Expansion in the UK Award’ at the British American Business Transatlantic Growth Awards.  The award recognises Leviton’s commitment to trade, investment, and jobs between the UK and USA.


Following the acquisition of Brand-Rex in 2015, Leviton have accelerated the pace of innovation with significant capital investment into UK operations, benefiting the greater transatlantic economy.


Such investments include the recently opened Data Centre Factory in Glenrothes, Scotland.  This make-to-order facility manufactures custom configurable solutions, including products that combine best US-made network connectivity with European standards-rated cables for a complete solution, delivered rapidly.


Find out more about the awards here.

Just: Ask, Listen, Talk – Mental Health Awareness Week

Last week was Mental Awareness Week, highlighting the importance of well-being at work and the role employers have in breaking the stigma surrounding mental health issues.


In support of this agenda,  “Just: Ask, Listen, Talk” – a Fife campaign led by Fife Council Supported Employment Service and Fife’s Health Promotion Workplace Team – encourages all Fife-based employers to make a pledge to prioritise mental health in the workplace and make sure their employees feel confident having discussions with managers when they are affected by poor mental health.


Delegates at a Mental Health and Employability Forum held at the Rothes Halls on Wednesday 15 May were made aware of the “Just: Ask, Listen Talk” toolkit for employers.


The toolkit provides straight-forward, practical advice and information about the free support services in Fife that help businesses support people at work or off sick due to mental health issues.  It also offers guidance on how to create and sustain a mentally-healthy workplace.


Angela Hamilton, Team Manager of Fife Council’s Supported Employment Service and lead for the J:ALT team said: “Poor mental health is the leading cause of work absence in the UK, with around half of all long-term sick leave due to stress, depression and anxiety.


“Stress is a known health and safety risk at work, and we are encouraging employers to address mental health issues in the same way as they would address physical injury or illness. This isn’t just about people with mental health conditions.  We all have mental health, and we can all be affected by poor mental health.  The Just: Ask, Listen Talk toolkit will help employers recognise signs that show someone may be experiencing poor mental health, encourage them to ask staff if they are OK, then listen and talk about support that might help people stay in work or return to work sooner.”


Alan Gow, from the Health Promotion Workplace Team said: “The J:ALT toolkit outlines the key building blocks of a mentally healthy workplace, and we are keen to work with employers in fife to help them put in place their building blocks and sign up to the J:ALT pledge.”


Click to download the toolkit and sign up to the Just: Ask, Listen, Talk pledge by emailing






Levenmouth Sustainable Transport Study Makes Progress

Transport Scotland have published the second of three reports for the Levenmouth Sustainable Transport Study.


This is the latest step in the appraisal of transport in Levenmouth, and is part of Fife Council’s campaign to reconnect Leven to the rail network.


The report recommends further more detailed investigation of six transport improvement options for the Levenmouth Area.  The options include a passenger rail link, improved bus services and better active travel links.  The detailed work is ongoing with the final report on the preferred option due in June.


Welcoming the report, Cllr David Ross (Co-leader of Fife Council) said: “Transport Scotland’s endorsement of a potential rail link to Leven is significant progress and Fife Council is delighted that our strong campaign, in partnership with the Levenmouth Rail Campaign, to improve access to jobs and education in this area of Fife is now being heard.”


Cllr David Alexander (Co-leader of Fife Council) added: “This is a positive step forward and I am happy to see the completion of this stage of the study.  We will continue to work with local communities, stakeholders and Transport Scotland to develop and complete this important work with a view to  reconnecting Leven to the rail network.”


For more information, visit the project website.



Applications invited for 2020 Fife Business Awards

The 2020 Fife Business Awards are now open for entries and nominations.


The 2019 Fife Business Awards were the biggest yet, with a record number of entries and more companies applying than ever before.  The winners came from a variety of sectors – tourism, manufacturing, retail, voluntary, business service and technology.


A simple online application process makes it easy for you to enter or nominate another business or charity.


Check out the programme of ‘In the Know’ workshops to get practical tips and guidance from past judges and winners to help you apply with greater confidence.


Visit the Fife Chamber of Commerce website for information about previous winners and all you need to know about entering next year’s awards,






Fife Council approves plan to grow food and drink in Fife

Fife Council has approved a new Food and Drink Sector Action Plan that is set to boost the sector in Fife.



Council members yesterday (9 May) endorsed a new Food and Drink Sector Action Plan designed to support and develop Fife’s food and drink businesses between 2019 and 2023.



The Fife Food and Drink Action Plan will involve working with large, global businesses located in Fife, whilst seeking to increase the capacity of small and micro-businesses.  It is set to addresses the challenges facing the industry locally, focusing on growth opportunities.



Food and drink is key to economic growth in Fife, especially in rural areas, and the new Action Plan is set to untap potential and provide a significant boost to the Fife economy.



A recent study also revealed that the sector’s strength is a major factor in the health of other economic sectors, such as manufacturing, retail and tourism, and is a significant contributor to rural communities.



Cllr Altany Craik, Convener – Economy, Tourism. Strategic Planning & Transportation Committee, said: “The council and its partners are committed to building on Fife’s strengths and will work with national agencies, including Scotland Food & Drink, to promote Fife’s food and drink capability.



“The new Action Plan will ensure that business support is available from Fife Council and its partners to ensure that Fife Food and Drink companies – of all sizes –  are fully supported.”



“The council and its partners remain committed to supporting businesses in the face turbulent economic times, and external factors, such as Brexit and other unknown trade issues. We are proactively working to raise awareness with businesses about possible impacts of a new trading relationship to encourage them to engage in the “Prepare for Brexit” campaign, and access the self-assessment toolkit guidance, and associated grant funding.”



Click for more information about the food and drink sector.




Fife Business Charter gets the green light

Fife Council’s Economy, Tourism, Strategic Planning and Transport Committee members approved the development of a Business Charter on Thursday.


The Council will now work with the Fife Economy Partnership and business representative bodies to develop the Charter.


The Business Charter seeks commitment to:

  • Increase Fife Council spend with local businesses and promote good employment practice through procurement
  • Further develop services across the council (including planning, licensing, environmental health and procurement) for business customers
  • Set out what support and levels of service businesses can expect
  • Provide information about the council’s services and how to access these
  • Connect businesses to the local community.


Once produced, businesses in Fife will be invited to adopt the Fife Business Charter, which will encourage them to:

  • Commit to local recruitment/ employment.
  • Be a good employer through fair work and pay.
  • Support local economic growth through investing in the community.
  • Take an active part in creating employment and training opportunities for young people.


Councillor Altany Craik the Convener of the Economy, Tourism, Strategic Planning and Transportation Committee said: “The charter will help us to support both Fife’s existing businesses and new companies attracted to grow within the region by making their contact with the Council easier and more effective. The Charter also links to our wider aim of creating the conditions for and harnessing the benefits of inclusive economic growth as outlined in the Plan for Fife.


“This Business Charter reinforces our commitment to maximising Fife’s potential and improving the economy for all. We want to work with companies and local people and further promote the creation of employment and training opportunities for local residents, including young people.”

University of St Andrews ranked amongst UK’s best universities

The University of St Andrews has again been ranked the best university in Scotland, according to a new higher education league table published in the Guardian University Guide 2019


St Andrews is ranked third overall behind Oxbridge, with Cambridge in first place, St Andrews is now only 0.2 percentage points behind Oxford.


The Guide places St Andrews as the only Scottish university in the top 20 out of 121 universities ranked and was ranked first in the UK for student satisfaction with their courses and with teaching.


St Andrews academic schools performed strongly with 18 of the University’s 20 subjects in the UK top 10.


St Andrews Principal, Professor Sally Mapstone, said: “This is a much-deserved endorsement of the commitment of all who teach, work and study here. It would not be possible without a considerable team effort across our schools and professional service units.”


Click to read the full news article on the University of St Andrews website.


Scotland’s first cycle circuit opens in Fife

Fife Cycle Park was officially opened on Wednesday 23 May by record breaking long-distance cyclist, Mark Beaumont, and Provost of Fife, Jim Leishman.


Funded by Fife Council, sportscotland and the Scottish Government, the purpose build cycle park is set to put central Fife at the forefront of Scottish cycling and promote the Kingdom’s position as the number one destination in Scotland for outdoor activities.


A funding contribution of £300,000 of National Lottery investment was made from sportscotland and £300,000 from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.


Provost of Fife Jim Leishman said: “Fife Cycle Park is already attracting the attention of regional and national events but it truly will be a facility for all ages and abilities. The Cycle Park team are developing a very inclusive programme which will offer opportunities for everyone to have the chance to be physically active on a bike.


Mark Beaumont added: “I’ve really enjoyed opening the Fife Cycle Park today. This is a first for Scotland and a wonderful facility available to everyone, not just skilled cyclists. I believe it will encourage people of all abilities to get on their bikes and have fun”.


Read the full article here.