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Business Cases worth £48 Million submitted for City-Region Deal money

5th October 2016

Business cases totalling a value of around £48 million have been submitted as part of the City-Region Deal. If approved, the money will be drawn down so that work can start on progressing a number of exciting projects in the Highlands.

The £315 million Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal contains commitments to major infrastructure delivery including the Inshes to Smithton Link Road, grade separation of the Longman Interchange and West Link road improvements.

It is anticipated that the City-Region Deal will unlock a further £800 million of private investment in the Highlands over the next 20 years.

Business cases for a further five projects are now being prepared for consideration by UK and Scottish Governments, in line with the Head of Terms Agreement which was signed in March this year.

The five projects include regeneration of Inverness Castle as a major visitor attraction; a Northern Innovation Hub which will provide support for a young economic generation; Land Remediation to bring the landfill site at the Longman into commercial use; a new University of the Highlands and Islands School of Health, Social Care and Life Sciences; and Science Skills Academy Hubs in five locations.

The five projects are designed to provide new jobs, boost the economy and generate a world class health and life sciences centre for learning, research and economic development in the Highlands.

The Highland Council leads the City-Region Deal Programme and a number of projects along with partners the University of the Highlands and Islands, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, High Life Highland, Transport Scotland, HITRANS and Albyn Housing who all lead on specific projects within the Deal.

Leader of the Highland Council, Margaret Davidson said: "The City-Region Deal will bring enormous benefits and opportunities to the Highlands over the next 20 years, through financial investment, collaborative working and strategic thinking. These individual projects will make a significant contribution to strengthening our economy and positioning the Highlands as a vibrant, forward thinking and digitally connected region which attracts inward investment and new business."

Inverness Castle - A business case worth around £15 million has been submitted with a view to regenerating the castle, in order to create a sustainable, international high quality visitor attraction that celebrates the Spirit of the Highlands. This new attraction is hoped to bring in between 200,000 and 250,000 visitors annually, with a significant knock-on effect on other tourist attractions in the region, and a potential for increased business investment in Inverness city centre in the retail and accommodation sectors.

Northern Innovation Hub - A business case worth £11 million has been submitted to help foster and develop a Northern Innovation Hub to help deal with some of the challenges facing the Highland economy. The hub will utilize a number of programmes to help to attract and/or retain young people in the region, cover the productivity gap between the Highland Council area and Scotland as a whole, as well as attracting foreign and direct investment and new start-ups to the region.

Land Remediation – An initial business case worth up to £10 million has been submitted to make available the currently unused landfill site at the Longman. The project has the potential for 18 hectares of redundant industrial/commercial land to be brought into economic use, enabling up to 45,000m2 of new industrial and commercial units, with in excess of 2,000 new jobs created over a ten year period.

University of the Highlands and Islands School of Health, Social Care and Life Sciences - A business case has been submitted in order to contribute to the financing of the new University of the Highlands and Islands School of Health, Social Care and Life Sciences. The new multidisciplinary centre will act as a driver for new industry, inward investment and increased innovation across the region. It is expected to significantly enhance the impact and commercialisation of the university's research in the life sciences, health and well-being disciplines. Businesses fostered by the initiative are expected over ten years to achieve a total of £40 million in sales of new medical technology and digital health/applied life science products and services, as well as providing 169 new full-time equivalent jobs.

Science Skills Academy STEMD Hubs – A business case worth £3 million has been submitted to help alleviate potential skills shortages in the life sciences and renewable energy sector as these areas benefit from projects of their own. In 2016-17 the project will work with partners including Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and the University of the Highlands and Islands to bring forward potential sites for Science Rooms (‘Newton Rooms') in 5 locations, working with local education and businesses in each area.

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