Tay Cities Region Deal brings progress on major projects

Construction at James Hutton Institute - International Barley Hub and Advanced Plant Growth Centre

The first full year of the Tay Cities Region Deal, signed in December 2020, has seen significant progress with several flagship projects launched. 

The Deal signalled the beginning of a partnership between UK and Scottish governments, along with public and private organisations from across Angus, Dundee, Fife and Perth & Kinross to promote sustainable and inclusive prosperity for the region.

The UK and Scottish Governments have earmarked £300million for projects over the next 10 years, which will help lever in a further £400m of private sector investment and deliver exciting new projects, infrastructure and jobs.

During the year 2021-22 several Deal-backed major projects in Angus, Dundee, Perth & Kinross and north-east Fife were completed and others moved into the delivery stage, including;

•    the International Barley Hub and Advanced Plant Growth Centre at the James Hutton Institute
•    Scotland’s first drone port, in Angus
•    the new Eden campus of the University of St Andrews
•    Abertay cyberQuarter
•    Tay Cities Engineering Partnership
•    Discovery Point upgrade

Councillor Grant Laing, Chair of the Tay Cities Region Joint Committee, said, “The Tay Cities Region Deal continues to demonstrate what we can achieve when we work together towards our shared vision to empower and promote inclusion through the region’s people, places, businesses and communities. The progress that we have made in 2022/23 is a testament to the commitment of all partners working in challenging circumstances with many milestone moments achieved across the projects.

“As we look ahead to the coming year we know that the impact of the increasing costs of services and materials will present the Deal with our biggest challenge to date. As the Joint Committee closely monitors the effect that this may have on the rate and scale of progress we will continue to emphasise the importance of collaborative working and the benefits of learning from each other to manage these issues at a time when investment in the Tay Cities Region is most needed.”

UK Government Minister for Scotland Malcolm Offord said, "The Tay Cities Region Deal is really gathering pace and creating hundreds of fantastic new jobs and opportunities for local residents, whether it's at the cyberQuarter, Barley Hub, drone port or Eden Campus. And there's so much more still to come, including the Advanced Plant Growth Centre and must-see Perth Museum attraction.

"The UK Government is investing £150 million in the deal's ambitious projects as part of our £2.3 billion support for levelling up across Scotland."

Neil Gray , Scottish Government Wellbeing Economy Secretary, said, “The Scottish Government has invested £150 million in the Tay Cities Region Deal and this report shows good progress is being made by the regional partners. We are starting to see benefits to the region, including £123 million further investment and 677 jobs. 
“The Deal is supporting regional investment and creating jobs and stronger economies, in line with priorities in the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation.”

Details of some of the major projects supported by the Tay Cities Region Deal which have advanced in the past year:

James Hutton Institute – International Barley Hub and Advanced Plant Growth Centre
Building work began in earnest for the International Barley Hub (IBH) and Advanced Plant Growth Centre (APGC) at The James Hutton Institute at Invergowrie. The two plant science innovation centres are supported by £45 million from the UK Government and £17 million from the Scottish Government as part of the Tay Cities Region Deal. 
The International Barley Hub seeks to secure the long-term future of the barley sector by helping develop new varieties and growing systems that can cope with future climate change, plus new uses for the crop. The project is underpinned by decades of research at the Institute and with partners, including the University of Dundee, SRUC and Abertay University, the Rowett Institute and others. Businesses and sectoral interest groups such as the Scotch Whisky Research Institute, Maltsters Association of GB, and the National Farmers Union Scotland form part of the project consortium’s demand side.
The APGC will allow us to develop and translate science that will lead to new crop productions systems like vertical farming, more accurately model climate change and its implications for plant and crop products such as food and pharma, and support food security through crop storage. It aims to revolutionise crop production systems with less environmental impact.
Combined, the APGC and IBH will create over 470 jobs in the Tayside region and a further 2,200 jobs across the wider Scottish and UK economy, demonstrating the true national importance of the two initiatives.

Drone port
Scotland’s first drone port, Mercury Drone Ports, launched a trial on-demand, drone collection and delivery service with NHS Tayside. The successful Beyond Visual Line of Sight trials saw medical equipment, samples and medicine being transported via an unmanned aircraft to and from multiple healthcare facilities between Angus and Dundee. 

From increasing connectivity to Angus’ rural facilities, to reducing testing times and speeding up diagnoses for patients, the eco-friendly drone transportation service trials demonstrated the benefits of using innovative technologies. 

Eden Campus
The City Deal funding for Eden Campus has been transformational.  It has contributed to a package of essential infrastructure, supported building renovations, roof repairs and the creation of new state-of-the-art facilities. Eden Campus has 2,599 m2 of occupied usable space and a further 7,197 m2 that is secure, wind and watertight. 

Projects completed in the last year include an entrepreneurship centre, a drinks manufacturing space and visitor centre, a rapid prototyping facility, a fuel cell preparation facility, a design studio, co-location space, laboratory space and a unique dry laboratory for testing battery technologies. The City Deal investment, thus far, has proved that we can deliver transformational results at pace, drawing international attention and leverage while helping to restore a sense of pride in a small community.  It is the ambition of the University to create over 600 jobs, generate inward investment (leverage) of more than £100m and locate 20 new companies in the area within the lifetime of the Deal. 

Discovery/Dundee Heritage Trust
Dundee Heritage Trust has reopened the doors unveiling a dramatic upgrade to the gallery and previously inaccessible dome area of the iconic Riverside exhibition after receiving funding from the Tay Cities Region Deal. The space now includes a highly visual and virtual experience, the Discovery Dome, transporting visitors through historic Dundee, with Alan Cumming’s recognisable voice narrating the journey.

Renovations began in summer 2021, transforming the layout of the gallery space within the visitor centre. A well-known silhouette on the Dundee cityscape, the vaulted dome area, inaccessible until now, has had a suspended floor, elevator, staircase and impactful art installation, Gaia, installed in the upper cupola of the Discovery Point building. The investment creates a new public gallery with a 360° panoramic view over the city and the River Tay.

Dundee Heritage Trust received investment via the Tay Cities Region Deal to fund the renovations to the Discovery Dome and gallery. Additional funding was received from the ScottishPower Foundation, the National Fund for Acquisitions and Art Fund, Hugh Fraser Foundation, West Hall Charitable Fund; Leng Charitable Trust; Waracle Ltd; Ecclesiastical Insurance and many generous individual supporters.

Abertay cyberQuarter
Opened in June 2022, the cyberQuarter at Abertay University has already welcomed its first 15 partners - a mix of global industry players, start-ups, national tech and entrepreneurship hubs, trade organisations and public sector bodies. A series of high profile events and collaborative innovation, education and research activities have taken place since the launch, including the national Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge from the Atlantic Council, outreach sessions led by the FBI and Police Scotland, regular Women In Cyber speaker events, a careers fair for Scottish cybersecurity students/graduates and many others. The cyberQuarter has also generated new jobs, with the NHS Scotland Cyber Centre of Excellence creating 30 roles and 25 Abertay Ethical Hacking students working part-time on real-world projects with Cyber and Fraud Centre – Scotland, alongside their studies. 

Tay Cities Engineering Partnership
The multi-million-pound Engineering Partnership Innovation Centre was given the green light, marking a significant milestone for the engineering sector in Scotland.

Receiving approval for funding from the Scottish Government, the Tay Cities Engineering Partnership will bring together expertise from training organisations, public sector bodies and engineering employers across the Tay Cities Region, establishing a regional Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing network in the North-East of Scotland.

The new collaboration includes the creation of a state-of-the-art centre for training, demonstration, and product prototyping, whilst developing foundation to graduate level and upskilling programmes to meet skills demand and enhance employability, career development and staff up-skilling.

Working with the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, the Tay Cities Engineering Partnership will bring together key private and public organisations, including Angus Council, Dundee & Angus College, Fife College, Perth College UHI, Perth and Kinross Council and Angus Training Group.

Further major projects are expected to come online throughout 2022-23 as the Tay Cities Region Deal delivers real impact.