Scottish Business Buzz

Scottish Business Buzz (20.12.17)

A new £16 million initiative launched in the Highlands to boost innovation is expected to support more than 500 jobs and boost the local economy by around £26m over the next seven years.

The Northern Innovation Hub (NIH) is a set of carefully targeted projects to strengthen innovation and increase competitiveness among businesses across The Highland Council area.

The hub will focus on four key industry sectors, encourage the adoption of new technologies and create more opportunities to attract and retain young people. It will focus on life sciences, tourism, food and drink and creative industries, as well as delivering a technology and young people strand.

The initiative forms part of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal (CRD) and is being led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) on behalf of the CRD partnership.

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Many families are turning to loans and credit cards because they feel under pressure to create the perfect Christmas, according to new research from Scottish Friendly.

The firm’s latest Disposable Income Index (DII) shows that nearly six in ten households say they make sacrifices to buy Christmas presents and of those with children 31 per cent are relying on credit to fund their purchases.

Unsurprisingly, households with children are the group most likely to feel under pressure to have the perfect Christmas. Half of families admit to feeling this way to compared to less than a quarter (24 per cent) of households without children, which may explain why the former are more likely to be making some form of financial sacrifice.

On average Brits anticipate spending £342 on Christmas presents this year with £303 going on credit cards.

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THE value of North Sea deals has increased four-fold to $8 billion (£6bn) this year in a sign confidence is returning to the area, industry leaders have said.

The surge in mergers and acquisitions activity is highlighted in figures compiled by Oil & Gas UK, which reckons the deals could help fuel recovery from the deep downturn triggered by the crude price plunge.

The industry body thinks the flurry of deals involving oil giants such as Total and private equity investors buying North Sea assets reflects a big change in sentiment in the North Sea. Firms have slashed investment off Scotland amid the sharp fall in oil prices since 2014, resulting in thousands of job losses.

The deals could pave the way to an increase in spending on the assets concerned. It is expected new owners will want to extend the lives of fields and to increase production.

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The number of Scottish companies at higher than average risk of insolvency rose markedly over the course of 2017, according to insolvency and restructuring trade body R3.

In December, 26.6 per cent of Scottish firms fell into the category of companies at greater than usual risk of insolvency, up by 36 per cent from January 2017, when the equivalent figure was 19.6 per cent.

Scotland’s business community can however take some reassurance from its relatively strong position relative to other parts of the UK: Scotland has the lowest proportion of firms at above-average risk of anywhere in the UK. In all, nearly a third (32.9 per cent) of UK businesses were at greater than average risk of insolvency in December, up from nearly a quarter (24.7 per cent) in January.

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Entrepreneurs and start-ups across Scotland are being given the chance to compete for a share of £100,000, designed to support the development of technology that will help people to thrive in older age.The first ever Centrica Active Ageing Challenge is now open for entry, and is looking for local start-ups with tech solutions that help meet the needs of an ageing society.

Successful applicants will be asked to pitch to a team of industry experts in March. As well as a share of the prize fund, winners could also receive the opportunity to access valuable networking and mentorship opportunities that can help start-ups to grow.

Local innovators have until 5 February to submit their applications. If successful, they will be asked to pitch their idea to the team of industry experts in March.

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About the author

Michelle Rodger

Michelle is a former national newspaper journalist who co-founded an award-winning IT business before launching Tartan Cat Communications. A social media and crowdfunding expert she manages media and communications for Business for Scotland.

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