I completely agree. There would be little point in city deals, with the investment that comes with them, if the work is not done by businesses and people who live in that area. If we did not take that approach, the whole thing would be rather pointless and unsustainable.
The deal is now at an advanced stage. We have the signed heads of agreement, which demonstrates the commitment made not only by the UK Government, but by the Scottish Government and the local council. The University of Stirling is a major partner in much of this, as is Forth Valley College. Both institutions benefit from having visionary leadership. The university is likely to be a major beneficiary of the city region deal, as much of the investment is aimed at promoting the commercialisation of the university’s research and development capabilities. The good name of the University of Stirling will only continue to increase in esteem.
The city region deal sets out several commitments that have already been made. The international environment centre will be based across the region but centred at the university, where a new research and policy centre will bring in dividends from the environment sector. It will become a catalyst for the set-up and scale-up of new environmental companies, building on the international reputation our area already has in this field. The new institute for aquaculture and global food security will also secure Stirling’s worldwide reputation as a centre of excellence for research and breakthrough solutions in the sector. Existing business interests in the sector will be supplemented by new ventures.
The national tartan centre will be a significant economic asset. I often feel I must remind colleagues about the global importance of tartan not just to Scotland’s traditional heritage sector, but as a part of today’s global fashion industry. Stirling is perfectly positioned to take up the mantle of hosting the national tartan centre as Bannockburn was a centre for manufacturing and design of tartan for much of its history. The tartan centre will become the UK-wide showcase for tartan and help to launch new design and fashion houses, building on its iconic global reputation. It will also become a hub for family history research, attracting new businesses into the growing global phenomenon and fascination people have for discovering their ancestry.
The Ministry of Defence has agreed to hand over the land at the recently vacated Forthside—a military base specialising in the maintenance of Army equipment. The site is of key importance because it sits between the river and our industrial estate and will become a grow-on space for businesses right in the heart of the city. It will combine with work that is already underway to host a third sector hub and a public sector innovation hub, creating a corridor of opportunity for public, private and third sectors to innovate and share ideas well into the future.
There will be a comprehensive regional energy masterplan, which will see new investment in schemes and projects to harness the power that can be generated from our natural resources in Stirling.