ORIC Credit Orkney Reduced Size

£2.8m funding announced for ORIC expansion

Published: 26/09/2022

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Orkney Islands Council (OIC) have approved a funding package totalling £2.8m towards the second phase of development at Orkney Research and Innovation Campus (ORIC).

ORIC - credit Orkney.com and John McGlyn, Executive Manager at ORIC

The announcement was made this morning (23 September 2022) as part of the official opening of the first phase of ORIC, carried out by Fred Olsen.

The Fred. Olsen-related companies have a long-standing history of investment and innovation in Orkney-based marine renewable energy, with Fred. Olsen, Chairman of Bonheur ASA, receiving an Honorary Doctorate at the Heriot-Watt Orkney Campus in 1985.    

ORIC is a joint venture by HIE and OIC to support the growing research and innovation activity and the expansion of companies working in Orkney’s world-leading marine renewables, energy and low carbon sector.

Around 160 people already work or study at the facilities in Stromness. It is expected that the second phase will result in 165 additional FTE jobs being created over the next ten years.

The expansion will make a substantial contribution to ORIC’s long term vision. The new development aims to enhance existing facilities and create new spaces to enable more academic and commercial activity, collaboration, and business incubation. New co-working spaces will be created to support small and growing businesses and a number of energy efficiency improvements will be made across the campus with the aim of achieving net zero operations.

A competitive tendering process to secure a design team is underway. 

The 3.75-acre campus, based in the refurbished former Stromness Academy and Primary School, has attracted additional research activities to Orkney, both from the commercial and academic worlds.

The project forms part of wider investment through the Islands Growth Deal - a ten-year investment programme jointly funded by the UK and Scottish governments, both of which will invest up to £50 million to drive sustainable and inclusive economic growth and boost the economies of Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides. The three Island Councils and their partners from the public, academic and business sectors, will invest up to £235 million in the Growth Deal over the same period. Along with the funding now approved by HIE and OIC, ORIC Phase 2 is set to be supported with funding of up to £8m from the UK Government as part of the Islands Growth Deal.

The £2.8m funding package consists of £850,000 each from HIE and OIC towards the associated design work and £560,000 each for essential external improvements to the windows and stonework of Block 1 at the Charles Clouston Building.

Graeme Harrison, area manager at HIE in Orkney, said: “ORIC plays such an important role in supporting the growth of existing research and innovation activity and the expansion of companies in Orkney’s marine renewables, energy and low carbon sector.

“This significant investment will support the growth of existing businesses and the creation of new ones. Crucially, it will provide more opportunities to attract and retain young people looking to live, work and study in Orkney. This is a project of great significance for Stromness and our islands as a whole.

“We look forward to working with Orkney Islands Council in bringing this important development to fruition.”

OIC leader James Stockan said: “What a pleasure to be able to announce this funding package at the official opening of this tremendous building. It’s great to pass this significant milestone and in doing so it’s important we acknowledge the effort that’s been put in by academia and business over the years here in Stromness. This project would not be happening were it not for their dedication and passion to make a difference. We look forward to seeing the campus and go from strength to strength.”

John McGlynn, executive manager at ORIC, said: “With this support we will be able to keep up the momentum from the first phase of redevelopment work at the campus completed late-2020. This funding, along with the funding contribution from the Islands Growth Deal, will allow continued modernisation of the campus to ensure that our existing and future campus organisations have the facilities they need to thrive.”

Fred Olsen, Chairman of Bonheur ASA, said: “I am delighted to mark the official opening of the Orkney Research and Innovation Campus.

“Over many decades, Fred. Olsen-related companies have supported the burgeoning renewable and clean energy sector on these islands and we wholeheartedly believe Orkney can be at the cutting edge of research, innovation and delivery.

“Fred. Olsen-related companies are fully behind the ambitions of ORIC to encourage collaboration and further Orkney-based R&D, making these isles a hub of renewable and low-carbon expertise.”