£6.7m investment programme for economic growth in Aberdeenshire

Sir Ian Wood.  (Photo: Ross Johnston/Newsline Media)
Sir Ian Wood. (Photo: Ross Johnston/Newsline Media)

Private sector led economic development body Opportunity North East (ONE) has set an ambitious programme of action and investment for its second year of operations to strengthen and diversify the economy of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

ONE’s goals are to lead the development and delivery of the region’s Renaissance Economic Vision and Strategy; grow the food, drink and agriculture sector; build the life sciences sector; maximise the oil and gas opportunity; evolve tourism to exploit new business and leisure opportunities. These were developed with industry and stakeholders, reflect the real opportunities within the region and its key industries, and are aligned with sector-specific, regional, Scottish and UK economic development priorities and strategies.

ONE will invest up to £3.5 million in 2017/18 in projects and programmes across its priority industry sectors, which will secure more than £3.2 million of match funding from partners.

ONE’s activity will include a food and drink business growth programme, work with agriculture supply chains on efficiency, developing diversification opportunities with the oil and gas supply chain, and direct financial support to VisitAberdeenshire to grow visitor numbers and tourism revenues in the region. The international Oil & Gas Technology Centre innovation project has been successfully launched and ONE is now leading on the other two innovation projects within the £250 million Aberdeen City Region Deal – the Agri-Food & Nutrition Hub for Innovation and the Bio-Therapeutics Hub for Innovation.

ONE has also confirmed changes to its main and industry sector boards with Trevor Garlick, former Managing Director of BP Exploration North Sea, becoming Chair of ONE Oil & Gas and joining its Economic Leadership Board; Colin Welsh, former Chief Executive of Simmons & Company International, joining ONE Oil & Gas; Robert Chapman of Farmlay Eggs joining ONE Food, Drink & Agriculture; and Les Thomson of GSK joining ONE Life Sciences.

Sir Ian Wood, chairman of ONE, said: “We are investing in the region’s future to turn the Renaissance Vision for our economy into a reality that people, businesses and industry sectors can engage with, influence, and help to deliver.

“ONE’s approach to identifying sector-specific opportunities to accelerate long term economic growth and providing resources, developing partnerships and securing funding to deliver projects is already making a difference. Effective co-operation between the private and public sectors is increasing and momentum is building around our projects and programmes. This year should be one of significant progress for the region’s economy,” Sir Ian continued.

Jennifer Craw, chief executive of ONE, said: “ONE is investing resources for maximum impact and using expertise and insight to support the ambitions of the enterprising businesses of all sizes across our key industries. It is the combination of interventions that ONE will make in these areas, shaped by our sector boards and delivered with partners, that will help to secure a prosperous future for this region, its communities and residents. The year on year increase in the scope of our activity and investment is a very positive indication of the real opportunities for growth that exist in our economy and these are what we are actively pursuing in the year ahead.”