New innovation hub to help construction and manufacturing companies across Highlands and Islands

Construction and manufacturing companies in the Highlands and Islands can soon access a new online hub aimed at boosting innovation in the region.

New innovation hub to help construction and manufacturing companies across Highlands and Islands

The Make It Smart Hub will be launched at a webinar at 2pm on November 11, when they will hear about the opportunities for companies and organisations in the region and how the new initiative can support their businesses.

The collaborative initiative is led by Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) and Inverness College UHI, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, with support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise. The DataLab and Censis are also providing support.

Following its launch, companies can sign up to the Make It Smart Hub on its online portal giving them access to learn, apply and share new technologies, processes and skills, that improve productivity and drive inclusive growth.

By signing up on the Make It Smart Hub portal, companies can benefit from a supporting programme of activity:

  • Explore, Connect, Learn, Do: Explore new technologies, connect collaboratively with new partners in new markets, learn about the latest innovations or new products and services, and finally get involved.
  • CPD training, events and virtual demonstrations: Find out about training courses to upskill/reskill your workforce, attend webinar events and access virtual demonstrations of new technologies delivered from CSIC in Hamilton or Inverness College UHI, targeting opportunities for construction and manufacturing companies in the region.
  • Access to equipment and technological expertise: A 5-AXIS Vertical CNC Machine, CNC Router and Sawmill Simulator is due to be procured by Inverness College UHI in 2021, providing opportunities for companies to attend demonstrations and access technological expertise. Access and delivery will be determined by COVID-19 restrictions. Transportable equipment from CSIC in Hamilton will also be showcased at University of the Highlands and Islands sites throughout the region, when possible, company offices, factory sites, conference and exhibitions.
  • R&D and collaboration opportunities: Building on its success in innovation CSIC will support new projects for companies in the region to develop new products and processes or enter new markets. Inverness College UHI will also provide companies with access to academic, research, business and training expertise. The partnership between Inverness College UHI and CSIC will also facilitate additional opportunities for industry-led knowledge exchange and collaborations amongst businesses.

During the webinar, the audience will learn more about the Hub from CSIC, and how Inverness College UHI and Highlands and Islands Enterprise can support innovation. Clare Campbell from Prickly Thistle Scotland and Matt Stevenson of ECOSystems Technologies Limited will also speak of the opportunities for manufacturing and construction companies in the region.

New innovation hub to help construction and manufacturing companies across Highlands and Islands

Andrew Nurse

Andrew Nurse, innovation manager at CSIC, said: “The Hub gives companies access to the latest innovation, helping them to work collaboratively to capitalise on local and national business opportunities. They will have the opportunity to explore innovation, to access free learning resources and advanced equipment and to be matched with solution providers to meet their challenges.

“By signing up to the hub on its website they can access everything the initiative has to offer and be kept up-to-date with new resources and rich programme of activity that is planned over the next few years.”

Georgina Parker, director of external relations at Inverness College UHI, said: “Inverness College UHI is delighted to be working in partnership with CSIC to share this important resource with SMEs in the Highlands and Islands, providing support for the sector as it looks to grow, develop and innovate during these challenges times. This platform will help make specialist equipment, technical expertise, training research and development support, more accessible to companies in this region.”

Steven Hutcheon, Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s acting regional head of technology and innovation, added: “Innovation is fundamental to business growth and diversification. It is also absolutely essential in Scotland’s economic recovery in manufacturing. This project will help businesses in the area explore and deploy new technologies and processes speeding up adoption and increasing productivity.  We look forward to working with partners to realise the benefits across the region.”

The Make It Smart Hub is one of twelve projects being funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Scottish Government through the Advancing Manufacturing Challenge Fund managed by Scottish Enterprise.

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