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£2.3m investment approved by HIE in Orkney in 2022-23

Published: 06/06/2023

Figures published by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) show that the agency approved more than £2.3m to business and community projects in Orkney in 2022-23.

Projects include two of Orkney’s North Isles, which have ambitions to restore and improve premises for communities and visitors. Having previously secured funding through the Scottish Land Fund to purchase the Stronsay Hotel, the Stronsay Development Trust will develop the building into a multi-use facility including visitor accommodation, a bar and restaurant, and a community garden. 

In Shapinsay, the local development trust will be able to refurbish and re-open The Smithy, which has been closed since 2018, meaning the island will once again have a community space and a café with indoor and outdoor space and a heritage area. 

Funding has also been secured for a part-time community development officer for Eday for two years. The community group will take forward priority projects looking at housing, a community hub and transport solutions to enhance island life and strengthen the tourism offering. The three isles’ projects have received HIE funding of £50,000, £40,000 and £39,000 respectively.

Orkney’s European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) was awarded £454,000 to enhance its fleet of specialist hydrogen tube trailers that will contribute towards improved hydrogen supply on the islands. The funding helps ensure a resilient supply of renewable hydrogen produced by EMEC on Eday for innovative projects on Orkney mainland and will improve future connectivity between regional hydrogen hubs emerging across the north of Scotland.

A key project for HIE is Orkney Research and Innovation Campus (ORIC) based in Stromness - a joint venture with Orkney Islands Council, which supports world-leading research and innovation activity, primarily in the energy sector. The project received £1.41m towards external improvements and design for its second phase of development. Support from the Islands Deal will be sought for this phase, which will accommodate the growth of existing tenants and provide space to attract more activity to Orkney.

Since it opened in 2021, ORIC has attracted international students and is home to innovative organisations including Aquatera, which provides worldwide environmental and operational support for off-shore, coastal and land-based activities. Aquatera, which employs 23 staff locally, was awarded an HIE Digital Enablement Grant of £24,750 to improve digital capacity and workforce digital skills. A further £50,000 award for training and marketing will help the company grow, particularly in international markets.

Benefiting businesses in the creative sector, Creative Orkney will be able to employ a part-time development officer over the next three years and will also receive a contribution towards exhibition attendance and  other projects. HIE’s £23,400 contribution to this three-year project forms part of a continuing programme of support for Orkney’s key sectors, which also benefits other membership groups, such as Destination Orkney and Orkney Food and Drink.

HIE approved £35,840 to Orkney Marketing’s digital activities which are jointly funded with Orkney Islands Council. This will ensure’s ongoing development and helps fund a digital media team to ensure that Orkney’s online presence can be developed and enhanced. The marketing programme also funds digital marketing campaigns both for online shopping and to promote Orkney’s tourism offering to a global audience.

HIE’s Young Business Capital Investment grants helped two new businesses further their ambitions. India Whitwell came to Orkney in 2018 to work in textiles. She aims to revive weaving locally to provide opportunities for young people to enter the industry and build a career and she received £5,470. Andrew Wylie and Aran Drever run WD Mechanical, a shotblasting business, and they have been able to expand into galvanising, providing a service not previously available in Orkney, thanks to funding of £6,900.

Other approvals include support to property company, Kirkjuvagr Ltd, which received £125,000 towards initial costs for an ambitious project to redevelop 18 Bridge Street in Kirkwall into a multi-purpose venue. It is expected to have a major impact on the town’s vibrancy and will help mitigate the loss of key ’High Street’ businesses over the past year, and encourage others to invest in the historic heart of the town.

Graeme Harrison, area manager at HIE’s Orkney area team, is keen for his team to work with more organisations that want to grow their operations across Orkney. He said:

“The past year has seen us work with businesses and communities on some ambitious projects and this is encouraging against a background of challenging economic conditions. We’ve taken the opportunity, following our provision of pandemic related support to businesses and communities, to build new relationships and work with new clients.

“We’ve improved access to our services online through the MyHIE portal and worked closely with Business Gateway and OIC locally to meet business needs on and offline.

“We want to maintain that broader engagement and are encouraging other businesses, social enterprises and community organisations looking to expand their activities, reach new markets and employ more people to get in touch with us.”

Further details of HIE’s investment is found at HIE's funding approvals.


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