The potential for the Highlands and Islands to become a leading player in developing the UK’s marine economy will be the focus of a new, region-wide study.
Known as a ‘science and innovation audit’ (SIA), the study will fully explore, for the first time, the potential of the region’s marine resource as an economic driver of national significance, supporting the growth of aquaculture, energy and bioscience in particular.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is leading a wide-ranging consortium to conduct the study, entitled ‘Maximising the marine economy of the Highlands and Islands’.
In addition to HIE, the other organisations taking part are: the University of the Highlands and Islands, Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre, Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre, European Marine Energy Centre, Marine Scotland Science, and National Oceanography Centre.
Morven Cameron, HIE’s Head of Universities, Education and Skills, explained: “Our lochs, rivers and coastal waters constitute a tremendously valuable asset that already makes a massive contribution to the regional economy and has the potential to achieve even more.
“The audit will enable us to establish a definitive assessment of the extent to which businesses and communities are using our marine resource, and assess the scope for further development to drive economic growth across the region.
“It will also help to put the Highlands and Islands on the UK map as a place where science and innovation are playing an increasingly important role and have potential to go further.”
The marine project is one of 12 UK science and innovation audits confirmed on Thursday,October 12, by Science Minister Jo Johnson.
“Now in their third wave, the science and innovation audits are providing valuable insight into the ground-breaking work taking place across the UK and the contributions we are making to solve challenges across the world,” Johnson said.
“The work of the successful regions undertaking their SIA in this wave will support the development and delivery of our Industrial Strategy and allow local places to build on their strengths. This will ensure that the UK remains competitive in the global market and is best placed to continue leading scientific discoveries and taking them to market.”
The outcomes of the Highlands and Islands research are expected to be published in late 2018.