£465k digital and innovation support programme announced

HIE's David Oxley (centre) with delegates at today's digital collaboration event (credit - Paul Campbell/HIE)
HIE's David Oxley (centre) with delegates at today's digital collaboration event (credit - Paul Campbell/HIE)

Businesses in the Highlands and Islands looking to develop their use of digital technology and innovation are set to benefit from a new £465,000 support programme.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) announced the investment at a digital collaboration event to launch the refreshed #hellodigital facility in An Lochran, Inverness.

More than 2,500 businesses across the region are expected to benefit from the programme. Over the next three years it will deliver specialist advice and events on topics such as data innovation, artificial intelligence (AI), sensors and internet of things (IoT), as well as robotics and cyber resilience. The programme will also be accessible to established community groups and social enterprises.

David Oxley, HIE director of business growth, said:

“This is about helping businesses become more productive, efficient and competitive through increased adoption and use of digital technology. The investment will also enable us to attract other funding through more collaboration and partnership initiatives.

“The programme aligns with digital provision available across HIE, as well as Business Gateway, Scottish Enterprise and The Scottish Government.  It will focus on the ambitions set-out by The Scottish Government Digital Strategy and Enterprise and Skills review for co-creation of programmes, collaboration, simplifying processes and achieving best value.”

Digital Economy Minister Kate Forbes said:

“The Scottish Government wants to put Scotland at the forefront of the digital and technological revolution, and create a world leading digital economy. That can only be achieved by collaborating with, and drawing upon the experience and skills of, industry experts, academic leaders, and the business community in this country and further afield. Events like today’s play a vital part in bringing together those groups and create a platform for innovation and collaboration.”  

The partnership event today was represented by organisations and programmes from across Scotland involved in supporting the development and growth of Scotland’s Digital Economy. They include The Data Lab Innovation Centre, Centre for Sensors and Imaging Systems (CENSIS), Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC), DigitalBoost (Business Gateway), ScotlandIS, EIT Digital, IoT Scotland and Interface. 

Businesses are signposted to support from the Digital Development Loan and Cyber Voucher Scheme.  The skills and talent pipeline is essential to digital economy growth in Scotland and a focus for all organisations represented, in particular the University of the Highland and Islands STEM, Science Skills Academy, Newton Rooms and CodeClan.

Also announced was the creation of a new Digital Economy Programme Board and Industry Advisory Group for Highlands and Islands.

A new collaboration meanwhile will include cybersecurity events and support for rural businesses across the Highlands and Islands.  This involves the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC), National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and Police Scotland and is supported by The Scottish Government Cyber Resilience Unit.

The digital and innovation support programme investment by HIE is in addition to the agency’s wider support for technology and innovation running until 2023. This includes HIE’s current investment in Phase 2 of The Data Lab Innovation Centre, CENSIS and Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) – a total investment of £1.25m over 5 years. 

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