Robert Gordon University (UK) RGU launch regional initiative to aid local businesses

A collaborative new initiative has been created to help future-proof Aberdeenshire businesses amid a changing and frequently challenging economic landscape.

A collaborative new initiative has been created to help future-proof Aberdeenshire businesses amid a changing and frequently challenging economic landscape.

RGU Sustainable Futures, a project spear-headed by Robert Gordon University and in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council, was officially launched at Banff Library yesterday (Wednesday 7 December).

It has been part-funded through a £100,000 grant from the Scottish Government’s Local Economic Covid Recovery Fund (LACER) and builds on the foundations of the successful Library Innovation Network Aberdeenshire (LINA) project, developed in partnership between the two organisations, which focussed on supporting rural-based start-ups through library spaces and facilities in the North East.

This new initiative will provide interactive workshops, events and online resources for both businesses and individuals, with a particular focus on supporting firms to become more sustainable and efficient as the region and nation as a whole moves towards lowering carbon emissions across all sectors.

It will initially run until the end of July, operating both online and from library hubs in Banff, Macduff, Peterhead, Fraserburgh and the recently refurbished Banchory Library. It’ll be headed up by Candace Elson, Programme Coordinator at RGU’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group (EIG).

Chris Moule, Head of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, said: “RGU Sustainable Futures is an innovative and refreshed take on LINA which worked so effectively to support start-up businesses in rural areas. We are proud to be doing this work in association with Aberdeenshire Council, and to see our relationship go from strength to strength.

“This new project will ensure existing Aberdeenshire businesses have a resource that helps them to be resilient, aware of opportunities and ultimately grow as ventures.

“At RGU, we want to ensure that we’re doing all we can to help the region prosper post-pandemic as well as to help firms transition to more sustainable practices. RGU Sustainable Futures is another step forward in that direction.”

The University is developing a track record of successful entrepreneurship programmes, including the popular and collaborative Women in Business, and was also recognised at the recent UK Times Higher Education Awards where as a finalist in the Outstanding Entrepreneurial University category.

Its Startup Accelerator programme, now in its fifth year, has generated over £1.5m in economic impact while supporting 98 different business ventures.

Councillor John Crawley, Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, said: “As a local authority we are proud to be part of this exciting new initiative in association with RGU which will provide a host of events and interactive activities for businesses to attend.

“In particular, I think the blend of online workshops and face-to-face discussions within the local settings of our Live Life Aberdeenshire libraries will provide businesses with a range of options to attend.”

RGU Sustainable Futures aims to help Aberdeenshire based businesses navigate immediate and upcoming challenges with a particular focus on the Just Transition to a net-zero future.

The schedule of workshops and content will soon be available via the RGU website.

Group image includes: Councillor Mark Findlater, Aberdeenshire Council Leader; Chris Moule, Head of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, RGU; Donella Beaton, Vice Principal for Economic Development, RGU; Gary Hughes, Service Manager for Economic Development, Aberdeenshire Council; Candace Elson, Programme Coordinator at RGU’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group (EIG); Councillor Hannah Powell, Aberdeenshire Council.