We are one year on from the official start of the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire City Deal and it’s an anniversary I’m delighted to celebrate.
I remember the hard work so many people put in to make it happen. The great news is, we are starting to see our efforts pay off.
The time was right for Aberdeen’s deal.
The city is adapting to a changing world. The City Region Deal will lock in the progress the city has made and be the catalyst for a true renaissance.
The downturn in the oil and gas industry has led to tough times for many people and we are still coming through that.
But Aberdeen remains a global hub for expertise in the sector, exporting its knowledge worldwide, and building on decades of experience.
That’s why the Oil and Gas Technology Centre, with its newly opened innovation hub, was placed at the heart of the deal.
A new, industry-led centre, its goal is to help maximise the economic recovery of the remaining reserves in the UK Continental shelf, boosting employment across the north- east, Scotland and the whole of the UK.
My colleague, Scotland Minister Ian Duncan, visited recently and, like everyone, was excited by its potential.
The hub is going to act as an incubator for new technologies to help the industry, such as robotics.
It will work closely with projects funded through the Edinburgh and South East City Region Deal –including Heriot Watt’s ground breaking Robot Atrium – in a move that shows the value of our city deals programme right across Scotland.
But while oil and gas is central to the deal, there are many other strings to its bow.
Take the harbour regeneration project.
It is benefiting not just the decommissioning industry but also by providing more port capacity.
This will help boost trade and tourism, making more space for cruise liners or shipping vessels to export products from Aberdeen to all over the world, recognising its strategic importance to the whole of the UK.
In addition, this deal will support Scotland’s world-leading life sciences sector, joining together clinical, commercial and academic researchers in the region and build on their existing strengths through the development of a Bio-Therapeutic hub.
Aberdeen and the region are well placed to make the most of this opportunity, as the north-east accounts for more than one fifth of employment in Scottish life sciences research and development and Aberdeen has one of the highest concentrations of life scientists in the UK outside of Cambridge.
Already, we can see the City Region Deal will have far reaching impacts for the region’s competitiveness, connectivity, infrastructure, housing, employment and lifestyle.
We expect hundreds of high skilled jobs to be created as millions of pounds of investment in the local economy.
There is a lot of hard work still to do. But today is a good moment to pause and congratulate everyone who made it a reality. You are building a great future for Aberdeen and the north-east.