University principals look to the future on Orkney visit



The principals of three of Scotland's universities have been looking at new opportunities for collaborative working during a two-day visit to Orkney.

The visit involved the principals of Heriot-Watt University, University of the Highlands and Islands and Robert Gordon University.

They took part in a range of discussions with Orkney Islands Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), along with other key agencies.

Professor Richard Williams, principal and vice-chancellor of Heriot-Watt University, said: “Heriot-Watt University has had a campus here on the island since 1989 undertaking world-leading marine technology, energy research and teaching from this unique environment and vibrant business community.

“We are delighted to be in discussions these past two days about possible new and additional opportunities to work in partnership with others. We hope to shape new collaborations for the future that will support growth and transform innovation activities, building on our collective strengths in research, teaching and innovation.”

Orkney Islands Council leader James Stockan, said: “Universities have a key role in supporting opportunities for sustainable economic development through research and innovation and the provision of learning opportunities. 

“We were very pleased to welcome the Principals to Orkney and to explore the potential for more collaborative working with each other and the wider community, in ways that benefit the universities and support the growth of our local economy.”

Charlotte Wright, Highlands and Islands Enterprise chief executive, added: “We very much welcome the interest and enthusiasm shown by those involved in this weeks' visit. This has been a great opportunity to showcase the international importance of Orkney's renewable energy and other sectors, and to demonstrate the potential for increased university activity here, particularly as the new research and innovation campus takes shape.

“Universities are crucial to innovation and research and development for new projects. Greater university presence will support the islands' ambitions, not just around energy, but in health, tourism, culture and other areas.”

During their two days in Orkney, the principals visited Stromness, the site of the planned Orkney research and innovation campus and base for Heriot-Watt University's International Centre for Island Technologies.

They also visited the Pier Arts Centre, Maeshowe Visitor Centre and Orkney College UHI and met representatives of the European Marine Energy Centre and organisations involved in Community Planning in Orkney.

The visit by the Principals ended with a Slovakian meal prepared by hospitality students at Orkney College UHI's Overblikk restaurant.