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Innovation framework to Accelerate Aberdeen

25/03/14

A digital innovation framework, which will make Aberdeen a beacon location for the development and deployment of digital technology, is to be created as part of the ambitious Accelerate Aberdeen strategy.

The framework, which will use 1.58 million of capital funding from the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport's Superconnected Cities Programme, will see the delivery of three digital innovation facilities hosted and managed by the University of Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University and Enterprise North East Trust (Enterprise).

Aberdeen City Council will work with the universities and Enterprise to create a technology accelerator facility to deliver a step-change in the provision of enterprise support on digital technology.

As well as delivering support to more than 1,000 local firms through the multi-million pound Broadband Connection Vouchers Scheme, the organisations will work with the public and private sector to deliver a legacy strategy programme from the Superconnected Cities Programme funds which will nurture and grow the digital economy for the benefit of industry and citizens.

Council leader Barney Crockett said: "Aberdeen City Council has strong, achievable ambitions to drastically improve digital provision across the city and to make the best use of the benefits and opportunities that will present.

"We will engage right across the public, community, private and academic sectors to deliver a step-change in the delivery of digital creativity, products and services drawing on local talent and international connectedness of Aberdeen underpinned by our energy sector."

The university sites focus on the acceleration of delivery of products, services and businesses emerging from university research and entrepreneurship programmes, as well as enhancing existing interfaces with the business sector.

It is proposed that Enterprise will provide enhanced business support provision from its new premises in the Energetica corridor, supporting the maximisation of the benefits of digital technology in existing business, nurturing emerging entrepreneurial ideas at a regional level, and attracting entrepreneurs from a worldwide network to develop their projects in Aberdeen. All support provided at this public hub is free of charge to the user groups.

In its first year of operation the Enterprise hub, in partnership with academia and industry, aims to deliver: workshops and presentations to 750 local businesses; a business acceleration programme for up to 40 small businesses; co-working facilities for digital projects; marketing and promotion of the Superconnected Cities Programme to a further 3,000 annual clients of Enterprise; and a pathway to market delivery for university spin outs and students' companies.

RGU's head of the School of Computing Science and Digital Media, Professor Ian Allison, said: "We are delighted to be involved in this project which will provide a linked up approach to bringing Aberdeen and the north-east firmly into the digital age.

"RGU has a strong reputation in the design and application of interactive, digital media systems, including mobile and web apps, media analytics, human interaction and augmented reality interfaces and we look forward to using those skills to help businesses grow and develop innovative digital services for the market place."

Enterprise North East Trust chief executive Gary McEwan said: "Enterprise North East Trust are excited at the prospect of developing a world class facility to catalyse and support the growth of new businesses in the North-east. The opportunities for growth in our region are vast, this drives our vision to establish an internationally renowned centre for enterprise that Aberdeen and the North-east will be proud of."

Professor Stephen Logan, Senior Vice-Principal, University of Aberdeen, added: "We are delighted to be part of Superconnected Cities, and a project which is an excellent example of organisations with skills and experience coming together to create a service which will benefit local companies and communities. This will help the innovation and entrepreneurship we are known for to deliver economic gain for our whole region."

The participating organisations will be responsible for the ongoing revenue costs of operating the facilities.

To register an interest in the voucher scheme visit: www.aberdeeninvestlivevisit.co.uk