Transforming the Highland economy

The City-Region Deal contains a number of proposals under three broad headings.

A Growing Economy

  • Support the commercialisation of new medical products and technologies at the University of the Highlands and Islands new multi-disciplinary centre for clinical research and teaching on the Campus;
  • Deliver an innovative approach to assisted living with applicability across the UK;
  • Establish a North Innovation Hub to support the development and internationalisation of business; and
  • Capitalise on the Highlands as a globally recognised location, by developing Inverness Castle as a key tourist destination and the international marketing of the area as a region for adventure tourism.

Enabling the Economy

  • Establishing a Joint Digital Highland Action Plan to accelerate provision of effective broadband and mobile coverage;
  • Improving the connectivity of the City and region through construction of critical roads which open up land for housing and commercial development;
  • Provide 6,000 new homes of which 1,800 will be affordable;
  • Ensure key regional air links to a global hub are developed and maintained to complement digital connectivity.

A Skilled Economy

  • Deliver the Science Skills Academy to promote STEM/D, subjects through an innovative approach to learning;
  • Pilot a joint Highland Employability Programme to bring about transformational change to employability services.

Impact of the City-Region Deal

The impact of this deal on Inverness and the wider Highland region would be significant in securing the long term productivity and economic growth of the region and position it as a region of digital opportunity.City-Region Deal funding of £315m could realise up to £1billion of investment by the private sector.

The City-Region Deal will deliver:

  • Over 1,000 direct jobs as a result of City-Region Deal projects with a further 2,200 additional jobs in the construction sector
  • A skilled labour market moving towards a high skilled high wage economy.
  • A centre of excellence in rural and digital healthcare with sufficient mass to attract research and investment and fully exploits the commercial opportunities
  • Business growth through effective digital connectivity and promotion of innovation
  • Improved productivity and real wages, which are estimated to increase by almost 1.3 per cent and bring £100m per annum to the regional economy;
  • A rebalanced population with the aim of retaining and/or attracting 1,500 young people in the 18-29 age group over the initial 10 year deal period;
  • 6,000 new houses over 20 years of which 1,800 will be affordable homes; and
  • Private sector leverage from housing building and, through opening up land for commercial development, would see a return over a 20 year period of around £800 million being invested in the economy of the city and region.