First minister visits BE-ST to announce funding milestone for innovation centres

First minister visits BE-ST to announce funding milestone for innovation centres

BE-ST CEO Stephen Good with First Minister Humza Yousaf

First Minister Humza Yousaf visited Built Environment - Smarter Transformation (BE-ST)’s Innovation Campus yesterday to announce the Scottish Funding Council (SFC)’s future approach to investing in Scotland’s innovation centres and to officially open BE-ST’s National Retrofit Centre of Excellence.

Following a rigorous assessment process by an independent panel, BE-ST is one of four innovation centres to be selected by the SFC to be funded as vehicles for investment in Scotland’s innovation infrastructure.

The First Minister’s visit comes as the SFC is introducing a different approach to investing in the centres. This focuses on significant, long-term annual investment across four innovation centres to enable deeper integration into Scotland’s innovation support infrastructure.

The three other innovation centres being funded as vehicles to infrastructure investment alongside BE-ST will be The Data Lab, Industrial Biotechnology IC (IBioIC) and Digital Heath and Care IC (DHI).

The announcement from the First Minister comes as part of the SFC’s move to strengthen the innovation centre’s relationships with colleges and universities and bring them closer to the wider system of SFC-funded innovation and knowledge exchange. The funding body is committed to supporting research and innovation in the focus areas of the three other innovation centres through its funding of universities and the development of bespoke transition plans.

As well as announcing this exciting step for the Scottish Funding Council and its innovation centres, during his visit the First Minister was able to witness many of the day-to-day activities that take place at BE-ST including retrofit and Passivhaus skills training both for industry professionals and school pupils. He also met each of the innovation centres’ chief executives to hear about the progress they are making to advance innovation in Scotland.

First minister visits BE-ST to announce funding milestone for innovation centres

The First Minister’s visit to BE-ST also provided the opportunity for him to officially open a new building at BE-ST – the National Retrofit Centre of Excellence. This building will be co-funded by the Scottish Government, Edinburgh Napier University, and BE-ST. The Centre is poised to revolutionise our approach to retrofitting existing buildings in the UK. As an extension of the UK Government’s National Retrofit Hub, and the United Nation’s High Performing Buildings Initiative, this centre is fostering deep collaboration between industry, academic stakeholders, public sector organisations, and citizens to create a comprehensive national retrofit response.

As BE-ST enters this next phase, it is bolstered by the support of the SFC and Scottish Government and ready to continue to deliver transformational change and a zero carbon future for the construction and built environment in Scotland.

Stephen Good, CEO of BE-ST, said: “It was an honour to welcome the First Minister to BE-ST today and to be able to showcase the work we do every day and how far we have come since we were initially funded by the SFC back in 2014. After starting with an empty factory space, opening the National Retrofit Centre of Excellence today was a huge milestone in BE-ST’s journey and the forthcoming SFC funding will only go to supercharge the delivery of an active skills programme in this space.

“With a decade of experience and progress behind us, it is incredibly validating to have the support and recognition of the SFC and Scottish Government behind us as we move forward. This new funding approach will open up new possibilities for long-term innovation and economic growth for Scotland’s construction and built environment sector as we transition to a zero carbon future.”

Karen Watt, chief executive of SFC, said: “Today’s announcement builds on a decade of astute investment that has produced significant dividends in terms of new products, new processes and new jobs. It has also created valuable relationships between universities, colleges, and industry. We are delighted to be continuing to support BE-ST to ensure that innovation for a zero-carbon built environment will benefit from long-term public investment focused on opportunities for creating future prosperity.”

Humza Yousaf MSP, First Minister of Scotland, added: “Innovation and collaboration are at the heart of our work to grow our economy and that is why I am delighted to announce funding of up to £8m per year for the SFC’s new investment plan for the Innovation Centres.

“This is a long-term commitment that will deliver greater stability and allow them to sustain and deepen their impact.

“The centres allow businesses and organisations to innovate by working with the best from academia to develop new products and processes. This will drive positive societal impact and economic prosperity across the country.”

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