The value of investing in top quality facilities to support innovative business was highlighted today (Wednesday) as senior management from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) met key clients at Moray's premier research centre.
As part of a two day visit to Moray, the HIE Board were in Forres to see the latest activities of ambitious developers at Glasgow School of Art's (GSA) Centre for Design Innovation, international water treatment business Biomatrix and medical diagnostic firm AccuNostics.
All have chosen a base on the 100 acres Enterprise Park Forres. The state of the art site was developed to attract large inward investments and provide space for ambitious local companies to grow. It is home to developments such as Horizon Scotland innovation and incubation centre, Vertex contact centre and Scotland Electronics (International) Ltd, who are based at the advanced manufacturing unit Nova House.
In the past month medical diagnostics firm AccuNostics announced that as part of a £4 million investment it had selected the Forres location over a number of other national contenders.
Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HIE, said: "Being at Horizon Scotland today provided the perfect backdrop for the HIE Board to discuss the importance of research and innovation in Scottish communities. At a time when Moray is focused on diversifying its economy the breadth of innovation and the international impacts being achieved here are inspiring.
"We are delighted that medical diagnostics firm AccuNostics decided the Enterprise Park Forres offered the best opportunities as they expand their business. The investment made by HIE into the Enterprise Park, which also secured almost £3 million of ERDF funding, will ensure we are ready to attract, develop, and support a diverse mix of businesses for years to come."
The Board also met with ecological water treatment company Biomatrix Water. Mr Paterson said: "Earlier this year the company's technologies won two national awards. Their efforts deliver one of our most fundamental needs - clean water - an invaluable step for developing countries' economic and social progress."
At the start of October the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) will celebrate a year since the opening of its Centre for Design Innovation in Forres. Locally it has already been working with a range of businesses including Cairngorm Mountain Ltd, Mohn Aqua and Moray Community Health and Social Care Partnership.
Professor Irene McAra McWilliam, Head of School of Design, welcomed the HIE Board's visit. She commented: "HIE and GSA have established a strategic partnership and launched this Centre with a mission to use design thinking to stimulate new, creative solutions in businesses and communities in the region.
"We've carried out a number of projects with our researchers and our students - in Moray, Bute, Harris, Assynt, the Cabrach, Ullapool, Plockton, and many other locations across the region. We are working on health innovation, textile innovation, business development, sustainable tourism, medical device development, and community regeneration projects, as well as teaching design thinking in schools in the region.
"So one year on, we're pleased with our initial successes, and look forward to continuing our partnership with HIE and developing new opportunities for our second year of operation."
The HIE Board completed the first day of the visit by meeting local business representatives, including the Moray Chamber of Commerce. On Thursday the HIE Board will tour Buckie Shipyard and then visit NHS Grampian's innovation hub at Synie Dental Clinic in Elgin.