The City of Edinburgh and its’ surrounding local authorities were boosted by news recently of the signing of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, which will see major new investment into Scotland’s capital and the south east of the country.
The Deal, which aims to accelerate growth and is designed to drive productivity while reducing inequalities and deprivation, was agreed by Councils from Edinburgh, Fife, Midlothian, East Lothian, West Lothian and the Scottish Borders, as well as Scottish and UK Government, and in partnership with universities and colleges. It will see investment totalling £1.3 billion for the region, which represents a quarter of the Scottish population and is an estimated contributor of £33 billion a year to the wider Scottish and UK economies.
Signing the deal on 7 August, Prime Minister Theresa May discussed the aim of establishing the region as the data capital of Europe, with the creation of five data-driven innovation ‘hubs’ at the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University. The region’s super-computing facilities will also be upgraded to provide a unique facility for high-speed data analytics.
Experts from the two universities will collaborate with industrial partners on data-based projects in the public, private and third sectors. The Data-Driven Innovation initiative aims to increase the contribution of university research and in-demand graduate skills to the region’s economy, launching more spinout companies, attracting start-ups and established businesses, and driving public and private sector investment. Collaboration with business in the region will be key to the delivery of the initiative, and Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce is working very closely with the Data Driven Innovation project team at the University of Edinburgh to help build these links.
Other key elements of the deal include:
A proposal for a new concert hall with a build budget of up to £20m, aiming to create a world-class facility and strengthen Edinburgh’s status as one of the world’s most important cultural hubs.
A planned £120m of designated funding to upgrade the Sherriffhall Roundabout to the South of the City and implement other infrastructure recommendations as laid out in the West Edinburgh Transport Appraisal.
Plans to radically improve housing in the region, with a commitment to building a significant number of homes focused on seven keys sites – Blindwells, Calderwood, Dunfermline, Edinburgh Waterfront, Shawfair, Tweedbank and Winchburgh.
Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Liz McAreavey said on completion of the deal that “Much credit must be given to all involved in achieving this milestone. We must now all continue this collaboration to ensure the Deal delivers the successful and inclusive economy we all desire.”