Private sector economic development body Opportunity North East (ONE) announced at its annual event last night that it will be enhancing its investment in the transition of the North East of Scotland from an oil capital to a global energy capital. It has also committed £14.2 million, for which it has secured £42 million of match funding, over the past 3 years as it drives growth in the region’s other key sectors: digital; food, drink & agriculture; life sciences; tourism, and stimulating the entrepreneurial environment.
These significant investment figures were announced as 200 senior leaders from across the private and public sectors gathered in Aberdeen for the ONE annual event, themed ONE Transformational Change, to celebrate a year of significant progress, pace and delivery.
Speaking at the event, ONE’s Chairman, Sir Ian Wood KT, GBE underlined the importance of a transformational mindset to deliver the transformational projects vital to secure the region’s economic future as North Sea oil depletes.
“We’re a region in transition, whether that be the evolution from an oil and gas capital to a global energy capital with a focus on lowering carbon emissions; investing in lower and zero carbon energy sources; becoming a vibrant digital cluster; strengthening our traditional industries in food, drink, agriculture and seafood; expanding tourism and the further development of our life sciences expertise.
“Exciting projects include the new Aberdeen South Harbour, the potential for a major Energy Transition Park, alternative energies like hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and capitalising on our world leading position in underwater engineering and technology. We’ve now developed a new ONE Tech Hub including our tie-up with CodeBase, and we’re looking hard at the potential for a major annual food festival and gourmet event to raise the profile of the region, a significant build up in our fish and food processing activities, significant growth in adventure sports throughout the region and fully exploiting the huge potential for the new exhibition and events centre, TECA.
“As leaders we must be prepared to invest and take risks to achieve fast entry into the new markets and technologies. We must be highly enterprising, prepared to collaborate and support joint initiatives to more clearly establish and then capitalise on our regional strengths.
“The challenge of transformational change is everyone’s responsibility.”
ONE’s Chief Executive, Jennifer Craw, highlighted a series of milestones achieved over the past year and co-investment and partnerships with bodies including Aberdeenshire Council, Aberdeen City Council, Robert Gordon University, Scotland Food & Drink, Scottish Enterprise, SRUC and the University of Aberdeen.
She said: “Our sector boards continue to identify opportunities for growth and turn these into investment in transformational projects. The ONE Tech Hub, Food Hub and Bio Hub are great examples, that will catalyse company growth, innovation, productivity and we hope will be recognised nationally and internationally.” “Almost all our sectors have business growth programmes and we’re now working with more than 500 ambitious companies across the region creating grass roots opportunities and delivering results that are building confidence in the economic future of our region.
“We’re proud of what’s been achieved in the three years since ONE was formed. But there’s so much more to be done. We believe economic development works best when people come together and work in partnership towards common goals. And that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
ONE delivers its own sector plans in the region and led on securing the £210 million for innovation projects in the £250 million Aberdeen City Region Deal, funded by the Scottish and UK Governments.