SRUC and HIE partnership to benefit rural economy

A new collaboration focussing on land and sea-based innovation is aiming to boost the Highlands and Islands economy. The five-year agreement between Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) will also play a major role in contributing to regional economic growth.

The signing of the agreement, by Professor Wayne Powell, Principal and Chief Executive of SRUC, and HIE Chief Executive Stuart Black, follows the official opening of SRUC’s Rural and Veterinary Innovation Centre (RAVIC), a valued addition to SRUC’s School of Veterinary Medicine, in Inverness by HRH the Princess Royal.

Delivering on SRUC’s mission to be an Enterprise University at the heart of Scotland’s natural economy, RAVIC will support the creation of innovative, sustainable new technologies, products, services, and businesses with global economic impact.

As the economic and community development agency for the Highlands and Islands, HIE continues to be ambitious for the region and embraces the transformational opportunities for Food, Drink and Aquaculture, Life Sciences, and Marine Biotechnology.

A key feature of the agreement is establishment of collaborative activities between SRUC and HIE, including roadshow events taking place throughout the Highlands and Islands and showcasing RAVIC engagement opportunities that support transformational innovation in human and animal health, aquaculture, and agriculture through industry and academia collaboration.

Collaborative activities already planned include hosting the A3 Scotland 2024 conference in September in Inverness that will bring together innovators in aquaculture, animal health and agritech from across the world.

Other opportunities highlighted in the agreement include:

  • Raising awareness of agriculture, aquaculture, and animal health sectors and their importance to the regional and national economy, rural community prosperity, and the natural environment, with a longer-term ambition of creating a regional and internationally recognised cluster.
  • Enhancing the breadth and depth of regional expert knowledge in natural capital and primary production sectors including aquaculture, food and drink, and agriculture.
  • Promoting the development and retention of a skilled rural workforce within the region.
  • Exploring the possibility of securing new funding into the region to support the creation of rural investment funds for sustainable rural economic growth, targeting promising startups, spinouts, scaling and inward investment businesses.

Prof Powell said, “Together, SRUC and HIE have a successful, shared history of promoting rural economic growth through applied research and innovation. This includes developing a programme of veterinary education to address rural recruitment and retention challenges, linked to the new SRUC School of Veterinary Medicine.

“HIE’s and SRUC’s strategic ambitions, while different, are strongly aligned. Collectively, our knowledge, networks, and resources can drive positive, transformational change and economic growth for the communities, businesses, and people who live, study, and work regionally and throughout Scotland.”

Stuart Black said, “This Collaboration Agreement sets out an ambition to work together on activities that can unlock the region’s potential in land and sea based rural economic development, focusing on opportunities which have a sustainable and positive impact on both communities and the natural environment.”

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