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Enterprise agency and art school reveal major investment plan in Highlands and Islands

07 January 2015

One of Scotland’s leading higher education institutions is to expand its presence in the Highlands and Islands it was confirmed today (Wednesday 7 January).

The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) is joining forces with development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to make a wide range of teaching and research opportunities available to students, businesses and communities from across the region.

The move will strengthen the region’s growing reputation for creativity, innovation and expanding use of digital technology; crucial factors that HIE believes will underpin sustainable economic and community development in the coming years.

The two organisations are already partners in GSA’s Institute of Design Innovation (InDI) at the Enterprise Park Forres. Set up with HIE support in 2010, InDI has been particularly active in the field of digital health research.

Now HIE and GSA plan to expand on the present model with anticipated investment of up to £10 million over the next four years. This will create a wide-ranging programme providing new opportunities for students and will help deliver HIE’s economic and community development priorities.

The partnership will directly support an estimated 20 new jobs and sustain a further 10 existing posts to deliver the new research and teaching programmes and services to businesses, social enterprises and communities throughout the region.

The expansion of collaboration between Scotland’s leading architectural, art and design school and HIE has been welcomed by the Scottish Government.

John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Economy, said:

“The Glasgow School of Art has an incredible international reputation, and this latest joint venture with Highlands and Islands Enterprise will build on an already successful partnership that has delivered employment and learning opportunities in the Highlands through the Institute of Design Innovation.

“It is particularly impressive that, despite the enormous challenges the GSA has faced after last year’s fire, it is continuing to move forward with confidence. Working with HIE to commit such a large amount of funding to this expansion is a sure sign of a strong future.

“Not only will this substantial investment open up new opportunities for students in the Highlands and Islands, it will also allow local businesses and social enterprises to draw on the GSA’s substantial expertise, thereby contributing to economic growth in the region.”

Highlands and Islands Enterprise chief executive Alex Paterson said the initiative underlined the importance of creativity, innovation and design as drivers of Scotland’s economic development.

He added: “Universities make a huge contribution to the success of major economies throughout the world, and this expansion of the GSA’s activities will deliver a number of valuable outcomes for our region.

“As well as introducing local access to a range of academic subjects which complement those being delivered by the other universities operating here, the GSA’s key strengths in innovation, digital technology and applying creativity and cutting edge design will support the expansion of important growth sectors, including creative industries and life sciences.

“It also opens up opportunities for communities in our fragile areas to tap into the GSA’s expertise to help develop creative ideas to improve rural resilience – for instance through developing traditional and cultural assets.”

Professor Tom Inns, director of The Glasgow School of Art, said: “The Glasgow School of Art is looking forward to developing its relationship with Highlands and Islands Enterprise through this new joint initiative. The new campus will build on the work that has been done through our Institute of Design Innovation in Forres, including the Digital Health Institute, and will open up further opportunities for students and businesses in the Highlands.”

Professor Irene McAra-McWilliam, who has led the development for The Glasgow School of Art, added: “We are delighted to be building on the success of our partnership with HIE. Our collaboration is a transformational activity for the Highlands and Islands.

“It is an opportunity to lead the way creatively in developing innovative and inclusive models of higher education, and cultivate the potential of the creative industries in the region especially the crucial role they play in realising the potential of digital technologies. In doing so, we will help to unlock and attract creative talent and support for businesses and communities enabling them to flourish across the region and globally.

“The Glasgow School of Art is recognised as one of Scotland’s greatest creative assets. We are delighted to be part of the fabric of the Highland and Islands, and collectively to make a difference to how we work, live and study.”

  • The Glasgow School of Art is internationally recognised as one of Europe's leading university-level institutions for creative education and research in fine art, design and architecture.

    At the heart of a vibrant, creative artistic community, it provides an energetic environment in which new ideas flourish. GSA researchers produce work that influences world culture by generating new knowledge through creativity and conceptual thinking, and the GSA supports economic growth through knowledge exchange and the application of creativity and innovation. In 2012 the GSA opened its first overseas campus, a collaboration with Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT).

    Among its many celebrated alumni the GSA counts a whole host of Turner Prize winners and nominees, award-winning architects such as Gareth Hoskins, leading international fashion designers including Jonathan Saunders, BAFTA winning filmmaker, Ross Hogg, 2014 Commonwealth Games medal designer, Jonathan Boyd, Product Designers such as Timorous Beasties, and Product Design Engineering graduates including MESO and 4c Design (designers of the 2014 Queen’s Baton), the Head of Design at Jaguar Landrover (Ian Callum), senior designers at Amazon/Kindle US and Dyson, and the winner of the 2012 James Dyson Award, (Dan Watson).

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