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Business Insight Thursday February 12 2015

in association with

Wind in their sails Experts assess the

future for Dundee

Thursday February 12 2015 | the times


Business Insight


A tale of seven cities

The £1 billion development of Dundee’s Waterfront is an example of new infrastructure crucial to city life in Scotland

Harnessing the economic potential of our metropolitan areas is crucial and the Scottish Cities Alliance has pioneering plans, writes Clare Ross


ities are revealed by study after study as being the key to driving economic growth and the Scottish Cities Alliance aims to do exactly that with the country’s seven cities — Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Perth and Stirling — joining forces to create the conditions for an ambitious partnership which aims to boost all aspects of city life – from housing stock to street lighting, roads to broadband connectivity and right through to attracting inward investment. The Alliance’s strategic director, Stewart Carruth, has great ambitions for the organisation. “The key objectives of the Alliance are to drive economic growth,” he explains. “The way that we are doing that is through three programmes of work: infrastructure investment, low carbon and Smart City work all related and linking into a set of city investment plans which have been one of the successes of the Alliance in the past year, and that work is now moving on to the next stage which is looking to attract potential investors. “The actual amount of investment required by Scotland’s cities is in the region of £10 billion, so there’s a big prize for investors who come and invest in Scotland and the Alliance is playing its role in attracting them into the country. “What the Alliance has done is to bring all the city investment requirements into

Stewart Carruth points to big prizes for investors

an investment prospectus for the seven cities. It might be in the future that potential investors find that the Alliance is their initial point of contact, but they may go directly to the city and that’s for me a success.” Carruth is keen to stress that while a key aim of the Alliance is infrastructure investment, all other aspects of city life are crucial to drive economic growth. “Certainly, inward investment and economic growth are key factors in ensuring that the cities are vibrant places to live, work and play,” he explains. “My experience is that people come and live and work in a city because they are great places to live and that means that cities themselves need to be vibrant, there needs to be a cultural side to a city, there needs to be the facilities and amenities, it needs to have a high quality of life. “The package that cities offer is second to none in Scotland and the Alliance, through the work it’s doing, is very conscious of that and contributing to raising the profile of that.” With a background in senior strategic and leadership roles in both the private and public sector, Carruth, who also is chief executive of Stirling Council, maintains the Alliance’s big achievements to date have been somewhat overlooked but is upbeat the future challenges will be met. “One of its biggest achievements, and this tends to be underestimated, is to get seven cities and the Scottish government working in collaboration, where it’s appropriate, and to be sensitive to each city’s individual character. “More specifically, the Alliance has done some super work in taking forward and making public the collective city investment requirements through City Investment Plans. “It has also contributed to the discussions on new funding models such as the Growth Accelerator Model. “This is now

being taken forward by the City of Edinburgh Council in conjunction with the Scottish government.” But while there is a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes, Carruth is adamant that the Alliance must promote itself better on the home front. “There is a general misunderstanding of the Scottish Cities Alliance and the question tends get asked: ‘So how much investment has the Alliance brought in?’ Well, I actually am not sure that the Alliance is there to secure investment directly; the Alliance is there to contribute, facilitate and broker — to bring partners together in a way that may enable potential investors to come further down the track. So it’s not necessarily a case of the Alliance securing investment directly, it’s much more about creating the conditions for invest-

ment to come in the future and it might be that this investment goes directly to cities and the Alliance has had a part to play in that — so that’s all to the good.” With seven cities each with their own distinct personalities and competitive advantages, it may be assumed that the smaller cities are learning a lot from their bigger counterparts — but Carruth is insistent that this is not always the case. “I would actually argue that all the cities are learning from each other. There is little doubt that one of the great successes of the Alliance has been the sharing of knowledge. “Sharing the information on new funding models has supported the development of some of the conversations that are currently going on between cities and city regions,” he says. “Glasgow has certainly led the way on the City Deal and the learning from that has been very important and been passed on to other cities in the Alliance. “The feedback we’ve received from investors has been extremely positive. What investors like to see is cities demonstrating that they can work together, not least because it shows that there is a critical mass of investment required which will make it more attractive to potential investors.” On the question of the Scottish Cities Alliance’s impact, Carruth insists that will be seen in the future. “The way it will be seen is through having the ability to identify very tangible projects that the Alliance has contributed to. It might be through initial seed funding, it could be in the form of housing, it could be in the form of the regeneration of city centres, it could be in the form of greater connectivity for broadband. “The Alliance has got a role to play in all of those things — the timescale it takes for such projects to come to fruition and for people to be able to touch and feel them is necessarily long term, so that question will only be answered in the next five to ten years, and in many ways that will be the true test for the Alliance.” Visit www.scottishcities.org/prospectus to view the investment prospectus.

Key routes to economic growth The Scottish Cities Alliance is the seven cities of Scotland — Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Perth and Stirling — working in partnership with the Scottish government to create the conditions for economic growth. The Alliance’s ambitious plans range over the short, medium and long term by strategically focusing on three programmes of work: Infrastructure, Low Carbon and Smart Cities. These are aligned to City Investment Plans, cited as being one of the big successes of the Alliance in the last year, and these plans are progressing, aiming to attract investors. With a £10 billion investment prospectus promoting the great potential across the seven city regions, the Alliance aims to attract external investment, stimulate economic activity and create new jobs and business opportunities, through investment in infrastructure. The 36-page investment prospectus is

split into sections allowing prospective investors to go straight to their area of interest and expertise, whether that is hotel and leisure, industrial, Office, Residential or Mixed Use, highlighting the great range of investor, developer and occupier opportunities across the seven Scottish cities. The vast breadth of opportunity available highlights Scotland’s cities are modern places to invest and do business. By utilising the strengths of Scotland’s cities the Alliance engages with Scottish investors through events across all seven cities and is exploring London as a gateway to attract investment, as well as targeting international markets. The Scottish Cities Alliance plans to achieve its aims by working together to create projects of scale and achieve an economically stronger future for Scotland. Visit www.scottishcities.org to view the investment prospectus.

the times | Thursday February 12 2015


Business Insight

Regeneration The benefits of the Waterfront are planned to spill into other areas of the city

Dundee taking a big step beyond horizon Swift decisions are being taken by investors who are keen to be involved in the dramatic development of the city, says Lorraine Wilson


t’s no exaggeration to say that Dundee is experiencing transformation on an epic scale. With the £1 billion Dundee Waterfront project at its heart, the city is in the midst of a metamorphosis that will redefine its economy and take full advantage of its enviable geographic situation. In itself, the Waterfront shows not just supreme ambition but also a recognition that its compact, largely pedestrianised city centre and glorious riverside has been divorced for too long. With 240 hectares of land being developed into five continuous zones along the 8km of the River Tay, this is the second largest regeneration project in Scotland and one of the top 20 in the UK. Apart from the V&A Museum of Design Dundee, there will be a new railway station along with a marina, port developments, offices, hotels, bars, shops, cafes and residential accommodation. Scottish Enterprise estimates that more than 7000 new jobs will be created as a result of the wave of new investment in the city, vital where large workforces

have been lost in the industrial sector. The city is now 10 years into its programme of demolition and restructuring works to make those connections between the city and the Central Waterfront happen, but Mike Galloway, director of city development at Dundee City Council says that 2015 is a crucial juncture in the project. “In terms of infrastructure, the Waterfront project will be virtually complete by the end of this year. That’s a 10-year effort coming to a conclusion,” he says. “The main public buildings — the V&A Dundee and the railway station will also be under construction this year. The build-up has been happening over a number of years, but it has been accompanied by a growing confidence that Dundee will be able to turn its economic fortunes around.” Last year’s award as a UNESCO City of Design was testament to the work that has been taking place and the realisation that Dundee’s economy can be rebuilt as an innovative 21st century city. Adrian Gillespie, managing director of operations at Scottish Enterprise believes that there are exceptional opportunities

for businesses in a wide range of sectors. “The increase in investment, job creation, and visitor numbers is going to generate hundreds of millions of pounds of additional revenue for the city and for those entrepreneurs who are ready to grasp the emerging business opportunities.” Discussions that have been building over the past two or three years are gaining momentum, adds Mike Galloway. “We’re about to firm up our preferred partnerships in terms of development and investment. I would say that if anyone has discounted Dundee in the past, but is now considering the opportunities, they really need to speak to us now. Decisions are going to start being made soon.” Roadshows have been held across the country to inform and update interested parties, and as a follow-up, trips have been organised to visit Dundee to witness the scale of the project and see the progress that has already been made. “The next trip is happening this month so anyone interested should get in touch as quickly as possible. Seeing is believing really.” One man who saw, believed, and has invested heavily in the city on a financial and personal basis is Tim Allan, chief executive of the Unicorn Property Group and president of Dundee & Angus Chamber of Commerce. “In 2005 I saw opportunity. Here was a city coming off a very low base with plenty of potential and a highly accom-

Mike Galloway talks of confidence in the city’s economic future

modative and dynamic council, which offered a good area for development and investment. Dundee was hit like everyone else during the downturn but it’s been remarkably resilient.” Allan is convinced that the future prosperity of Dundee lies in creating an attractive city to live in — and to retain the graduates produced by academia. “We have two very good universities: Dundee University is world-class in many of its fields, as is Abertay in the digital and design fields. These are crucial areas for investment and I would welcome the expansion of those so that we produce more highly-skilled people in those areas.” Apart from successful businesses such as Insights, a global training expert that began and is still led from Dundee, the city nurtures intelligent young businesses. In the digital field this includes 4J and its successful ventures working with Microsoft on console versions of the phenomenally successful Minecraft game, and Yo Yo Games, which is working with Sony. “Our businesses should be more interested in Dundee’s relationship with the world than simply Dundee’s relationship with the rest of Scotland, says Allan, who believes that global outlook is personified in the siting of the V&A Dundee. “This is no municipal offshoot. This is a worldclass museum of design and applied design — that’s pretty outstanding.” Mike Galloway was one of the team that had to face the press in the light of the announcement that V&A Dundee costs had risen from £45 million to £80.1 million. “Obviously there was a lot of publicity regarding the costs, but the council did agree, unanimously, to go ahead. “It’s a concern, of course, about the cost being much higher than previously estimated and we looking at why that’s happened, but the main thing is we’re not going to back off; we really need to press on.” As Adrian Gillespie points out, however, the economic benefits of the V&A Dundee and the Waterfront have a wider significance. “It plays a pivotal role in helping Dundee stimulate economic growth, for Tayside and the wider Scottish economy.” And at the most local level, areas of the city will feed off one another more successfully. “There’s no hard red line around the Waterfront,” adds Mike Galloway. “The benefit spills into the rest of the city and vice-versa, so there should be a seamless transition between the two areas.” Dundee has what is known in retail as the classic dumbbell arrangement — a long pedestrian drag with a major shopping centre at each end; in Dundee’s case, the Wellgate and the Overgate. “We’ve had that in place for a number of years now. When the Wellgate was the better centre, the Overgate was redeveloped and given large amounts of investment, and now that’s reversed. The plans for the Wellgate, providing a shopping and entertainment experience will mean that there will be more of a rivalry, and that’s good for a dynamic city centre.” There has been concern among proud Dundonians that, in this transformation, the city will lose its unique character. Mile Galloway addresses that: “This is not about the gentrification of Dundee,” he says. “The aim is to change our local economy radically of course, but for the benefit of everybody. One element of the Waterfront is a desire to encourage local and independent businesses. “There needs to be fairness attached to that. We need to ensure that inequalities are tackled, and everyone benefits from new investment and economic activity.”

Thursday February 12 2015 | the times


Business Insight

Business Forum

Strategy for a city on the cusp of major transformation The latest Times Scotland Business Forum heard universal optimism on the future of Dundee from academia and business. Barry McDonald reports


T is a far cry from a city built on jute, jam and journalism. With only one of that formidable triumvirate left in the city, Dundee has its sights set on the future. With the imminent arrival of the V&A Dundee at the Waterfront development, the city is shaking off the shackles of the past and looking forward to a formidable future.

Close relations between industry and academia are essential in averting the skills gap. Is further investment required to prevent this? Professor Nigel Seaton argued that further investment and close relations are required to prevent a future skills gap. “There is already a very close relationship between academia and industry, including biolife, bioscience and digital media. At Abertay we engage with those, particular digital media,” he said. While consistent government funding is important, Graham McKee said the emphasis should also be on dialogue. “The links between academia and business must ensure that business, schools, colleges and universities are constantly in discussion and sharing knowledge about where any gaps might be and sharing opportunities to develop,” he said. “We have a good story to tell about that in Dundee. The universities work closely with the Chamber of Commerce and have a good progression framework. Dundee isn’t that big a place and leaders in the city know and trust each other to get things done quite quickly. At a sector level we’re seeing things like renewables and the V&A Dundee, which present opportunities for academia and business to get together and provide a boost for the area.” Alison Henderson said: “There are skills gaps, in hospitality and tourism particularly, where industry is aware of its future needs. In some ways, industry had to take responsibility for future proofing. It’s time now for it to look at the opportunities

there are in the city and make sure the skills gaps are filled by the universities.” The academic sector in Dundee has clearly been very important and continues to be to the civic leadership in the city, Philip Long pointed out. “That scale allows close relationships across the different civic leaders, whether it’s the local authority or whether it’s business. When we all reflect and look back at the growing success of Dundee that will be seen as one of the successes. “The V&A Dundee has a part to play in all of that and what has been an interesting model is how it has come about. It has come about because of the aspirations of a group of civic leaders coming together.” Gillian Easson added: “The digital sector has already come together with the education sector in the establishment of code clubs, which promote digital fluency and address skill gaps in younger people.” George Paterson argued that attitude is as important as investment. “Academia, including schools, needs to make time to build these links and the bonds which we foster.” Retaining a pool of talent in the city is vital for future-proofing said Adrian Gillespie. “It’s important to attract more businesses to Dundee but also to keep the students who come here to study and develop their skills in the creative industries. There are more opportunities and there is a great feeling about the place,” he said. Connectivity is a vital ingredient to both the wealth and growth of cities. What is being done or needs to be done to maintain and improve Dundee’s connectivity, locally, nationally and internationally?

David Smith called for greater connectivity between Scottish cities

Left to right: Adrian Gillespie, Mike Galloway, Gillian Easson, David Rankine, Graham McKee, Alison Henderson, Lindsay McIntosh, Prof Nigel Seaton, David Smith, George Paterson It’s the mindset that Dundee is “out of the way” that must change, argued David Rankine. “You have the big oil hub up in Aberdeen and you have Dundee in between that and Glasgow and Edinburgh. It’s quite central for business and is a great place to be located in Scotland but it’s trying to get the idea across that Dundee is going places,” he said. While Gillian Easson pointed out that more graduates are choosing to stay in the city and establish businesses, George Patterson said the airport is the key for future business development. “We use the airport and used it consistently when there were flights to Birmingham. We have an office in Coventry and that link worked very well for us. Now we only have the Stansted flight which ironically works for us just as well. It’s vital for us that link is maintained. I would hate the airport to be lost. I would put out a plea to get more people to use the airport rather than driving down to Edinburgh. If we don’t use it, we’ll lose it.” Despite having offices in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh, David Smith said Dundee is the prefect location for his headquarters. “Connectivity could be improved, for example the trains could be faster, but at the moment we’re about an hour to Edinburgh and just over an hour to Aberdeen,” he said. There’s real change in Dundee; it’s a city on the up. Are you confident that will be consolidated? Mike Galloway maintained that while close working relationships in Dundee are incredibly strong and the spirit of partnership is unique, it shouldn’t be taken for granted. “In terms of both the

actuality of Dundee and the perception of the city, we need to keep working at those partnerships and make sure it survives a generational change because a lot of the relationships are personal ones in this city,” he said. “We know each, we get on and we get the job done but we have to invest time and effort to make sure that stays in the longer term.” Philip Long: “It’s keeping the thirst for improvement once the improvement comes.” How much support do you feel you get from the Scottish government, its agencies and the UK government? Alison Henderson: “Economic development is really strong within the council and they’ve worked closely with it to bring international conferences and to shine the spotlight on the city. They’ve done a good job in changing perceptions of the city and connecting people and business in the city to what they’re doing externally. But we always want more investment and more support don’t we?” Philip Long pointed out the Scottish government is investing very substantially in the V&A Dundee as a flagship project. “People around the table have said that represents a very important symbol for the city’s future. We’ve had the launch of the UNESCO City of Design recently with three cabinet ministers here and we also had several of the provosts from surrounding cities so there is an enormous investment in both finance and time from government.” However, there is a fine balance to be struck between the perception that things are on the up, with complacency, said Graham McKee. “We can’t take our feet off the pedal,” he said. “There’s a lot

the times | Thursday February 12 2015


Business Insight


still to do. For example, the quality of life here is very strong but it’s still a bit unbalanced. A lot of the young people we’re trying to attract and keep need a nice attractive urban environment. There’s still a lot of work to do and Mike and his colleagues are well aware of that.” How are we engaging the population with the idea that there will be a tangible benefit for them and their families as the city moves forward? Mike Galloway said it’s vital that everything that’s happening in the city — the V&A Dundee and the Waterfront — is meaningful to everyone who lives in the city. “It can make a difference to their lives and their children’s lives in the future,” he said. “That’s something we’re working very hard to do and the best way we find to do that is to engage with the schools and the kids, then they take that home with them. And parents will listen more to their children than they will to us. For example, the Waterfront project is part of the curriculum of every school in the city. They understand what is happening to their city and what it means to them.” Where are the investment opportunities in the city (hospitality, accommodation, retail etc) and what steps are required to ensure these opportunities are attractive to large chains and entrepreneurs? “There needs to be more sustainable wealth in this area to keep things going when tourists aren’t here,” said David Smith. “Retail and hospitality options need a flow of business through them.” “What seems to be clear when cultural projects or regeneration work is undertaken is that there is a presumption they

Around the table The Business Forum was chaired by Lindsay McIntosh, political editor of The Times Scotland who was joined by: „„ Gillian Easson, Director, Creative Dundee „„ Alison Henderson, Chief Executive, Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce „„ David Smith, Managing Partner, Henderson Loggie „„ Professor Nigel Seaton, Principal, Abertay University „„ Philip Long, Director, V&A Dundee „„ Adrian Gillespie, Managing Director Operations – Company Growth, Innovation and Infrastructure, Scottish Enterprise „„ Mike Galloway, Director of City Development, Dundee City Council „„ George Paterson, Business Development and Marketing Manager, Johnson Matthey Battery Systems „„ David Rankine, Business Development Director, MTC Media „„ Graham McKee, Projects Director, University of Dundee

Prof Nigel Seaton pointed to the need to identify new opportunities

will create that visitor interest and bring in a new flow of people,” added Philip Long. “From that, employment and investment follows and the food and hospitality industries. What we’ve seen in places like Bilbao is the way that investment in culture, if done correctly, is also very good at generating a greater civic pride and as a consequence far wider opportunity and business development than might have at first been thought possible.’” Mike Galloway made clear the links with Bilbao have led to a greater understanding of how cultural developments can have a positive impact on a city. “We’ve worked closely with Bilbao to understand what’s happened with the city regarding the Guggenheim. Yes, the visitor numbers are high and tourism has had a big impact but the biggest growth in their local economy since it opened is in broader fields of industry, particularly in terms of digital media and life sciences. So that type of investment does follow a cultural improvement.” Alison Henderson added: “We have to make local businesses aware of what opportunities there might be. There may be large contractors brought in on capital projects but what are the opportunities to supply into those? Businesses need to be really aware of that and if they feel they’re not of a scale to bid into these projects, they need to find another couple of local businesses and involve themselves in partnerships. They need to be more aware of the procurement process.” The hotel capacity of the city is a vital ingredient for future growth, argued George Patterson. He said: “Sometimes we struggle to get visitors hotel rooms. If we expect a lot more visitors to come to the city we need to back that up with accommodation for them. “We don’t want a situation where there is a hotel on every corner but we have to get the balance right with the number of bedrooms. If we want to cater for the business sector we don’t want to put people up in Perth or Angus.” Dundee is a world-leading hot spot for gaming and the life sciences sector is at the forefront of the e-health revolution. How do we ensure the city retains its position in these sectors? Nigel Seaton said: “It depends on appropriate government policy and funding. It’s for those of us running universities and businesses to continue to innovate and develop. Nobody knows what the big industries in Dundee will be in 50 years time. I’m confident we can maintain the life sciences and gaming sectors but what about the next big opportunities?” “It’s also about continuing to invest in our young people because they are the future of our city,” said Alison Henderson. “We need to inspire them and make sure they’re coming out with the right attitude, skills and aspirations to sustain their city. We need to inspire them to want to be in the ‘hot spots’, whatever that sector might be.” Mike Galloway added: “One of the things we’re really good at in Dundee is being opportunistic and what we really need to do is keep the civic attitude which maintains that approach because you don’t know what the future holds. But what’s important is to spot it.” Adrian Gillespie concluded: “Attracting international talent and international investment in these sectors is critical to set Dundee apart from the rest of the world. We need to look at how we can leverage more international investment on the back of everything that’s going on in the city.”

Long term planning now bringing real economic development


aving recently taken up the post of chief executive of Dundee City Council, I am already enjoying the responsibility of helping the city to continue its impressive transformation. There is a real focus in the city on ensuring that as many people as possible can benefit from this regeneration. “We are now approaching a crucial stage in the programme to deliver the V&A Dundee and we regard this as a significant linchpin in bringing more jobs and investment to the city. It is estimated that there will be an annual economic boost of £11.6 million through the museum and the worldclass building will attract hundreds of thousands of people. Dundee’s £1 billion Waterfront development continues apace, and we are starting see how long-term planning is beginning to pay dividends for the city. Developer interest in the regeneration is at an all time high and the council will consider a report on the first of these interests soon. This is a really exciting time for Dundee and I am impressed by the determination and commitment that is shown by everyone involved in our efforts. David Martin, chief executive of Dundee City Council

The council and its partners are facing an interesting future that is clearly going to be filled with both challenges and opportunities that we will face together with confidence, a confidence that has already brought national and international recognition for the city. That has been demonstrated by the announcement that Dundee has been named the UNESCO UK City of Design, joining an elite band of dynamic places, including Turin, Berlin and Montreal. This latest success would not have been possible without the proven track record of working in partnership across Dundee. The council has always played a major role in city-wide initiatives that bring advantages to the people of Dundee. We are proud to work alongside both Abertay and Dundee universities, Dundee and Angus College, as well as private enterprise and community organisations. Partnership will continue to play a vital role in what we do going forward, particularly in delivering social justice and fairness and creating jobs and economic growth in Dundee.

Thursday February 12 2015 | the times


Business Insight

Creative thinking is key to t Dundee’s place in design innovation is underpinned and being boosted by partnerships across many key disciplines, writes Lorraine Wilson


he announcement on December 1 last year that Dundee was to join the Creative Cities Network as the first UNESCO City of Design in the UK, took many people unfamiliar with its solid design heritage by surprise. Stewart Murdoch, director of leisure and communities at Dundee City Council, and the lead on the UNESCO bid says the prestigious designation showed that Dundee had an important place in design innovation, from medical to digital and beyond — and all long before the announcement of the new V&A in the city. “We know that to maintain credibility over the next five to 10 years is a challenge, but what’s happening in Dundee can only add to that credibility. ‘The arrival of V&A Dundee adds weight to the decision. It shows that Dundee is a solid member of the partnership, because there will be no other cultural building on the scale of the V&A Dundee built in Scot-

To maintain credibility is a challenge but what is happening adds to that credibility

land over the next five years.” There has long been a flourishing creative scene in Dundee, from visual arts to music, but in the past few years there has been a greater support and means of communication for those working across the creative industries. Creative Dundee has taken a lead in providing this. Originally conceived as a blog in 2008, it has developed into much more than a virtual meeting place, as cofounder Gillian Easson explains. “The idea was to amplify the city’s creative scene and introduce it to the world, but also to strengthen and grow the creative sector by connecting people. From 2008 to 2013 we ran it voluntarily, but we constituted it in 2013 and it became a social venture. Our main focus is still the online platform, which promotes opportunities, local events, and creatives.” It also introduced Dundee to the concept of Pecha Kucha, where a presenter shows 20 images for 20 seconds each and provides a narrative, providing a more precise way of delivering ideas and exposing audiences to creative thinking across many different industries. “We see our place as the bridge between creative and business and exhibiting just how important the creative sector is to the economy.” Adrian Gillespie of Scottish Enterprise knows this and believes that the start-up facility for creative industries, District 10, is also an important factor in retaining talent. “District 10 is a significant addi-

The Dare Proto games festival tion to Dundee’s Waterfront. The creative industries sector contributes more than £3.2 billion to the Scottish economy, so it’s vital that we have the right infrastructure for early stage creative companies.” The retention of creative talent is key

and Gillian believes this is possible, particularly in the relationships fostered between organisations. “The success in Dundee seems to be rooted in the balance between what happens at the national cultural organisation


The quiet power that lies behind supercar


here are many household names the visiting driver recognises on the A90 Kingsway stretch that hugs Dundee’s periphery. From McDonald’s and Aldi to Tesco and Homebase, they are all there. Plus, one that might not register so readily. But it’s also a name to be reckoned with, a long-established British company boasting 12,000 employees around the globe and — making it a local success story too — 64 of them based here at the West Gourdie industrial estate. Not surprisingly, the clue being in the name, Johnson Matthey Battery Systems (JMBS) makes car batteries, among other sophisticated things that drive the modern world. But why should the product of its Dundee outpost be attracting enhanced attention these days — like that of the three petrolhead jesters of Top Gear? The answer is implicit in this being the swiftly accelerating era of the electric car. It’s also in the kind of cutting-edge power packs that the company makes, the way it develops them, and what it develops them for. Such as?

How about the McLaren P1 – which, as a limited production plug-in hybrid supercar priced at £1 million, featured on the famously controversial TV programme as possibly the last word in automotive advances and, dare we say it, glamour. They called it “the wildest British hypercar in history”. Power for the electric part of its awesome forward thrust is located behind the cabin and stored in a 324-cell lithium-ion high-density battery pack, developed by Johnson Matthey in Dundee cooperating with the car’s Woking-based manufacturer. And that’s only one example of the innovative research and development resources that sets JMBS apart from its competition. As Europe’s largest independent supplier of lithium-ion battery systems, it delivers bespoke solutions for many other appreciative clients increasingly engaged in electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as e-bikes. In other notable high-profile cases, the company has provided the battery pack for Jaguar Land Rover’s XJe engineering research vehicle — an experimental plug-in hybrid version of its luxury Jaguar

XJ saloon. And it has done the same for a safari Land Rover in South Africa, allowing tourists to approach animals in the wild almost silently. If that’s not glamorous, what is? Johnson Matthey tends to keep its ever-brighter light somewhat under a bushel, however, and even when being celebrated by its peers as Britain’s Most Admired Company for 2014, it proves that “winners do not need to shout to be recognised as outstanding by their peers”, according to the competition sponsor, Management Today. In the same spirit, its newly-appointed managing director in Dundee, Anne Risse, is not one for shouting either. Indeed, in her mellifluous French accent she says emphatically: “I’m not ashamed to say that we are behind-the-scenes people. We leave it to our automotive customers to do the glamour. “The fact is, that with the general momentum towards hybrid cars, all markets for batteries are growing at the moment, whether in Europe, Asia or North America. So while we expand our own repertoire, we trust that this general market will also contribute to our growth;

The McLaren PI owes its acceleration to the cutting edge technology of JMBS

and we will often follow our customers wherever they are.” Previously an executive in the company’s Royston HQ near Cambridge, she has been elevated from within to supervise the continued growth of what was then Dundee’s own well-known battery-maker, Axeon. The new parent in the £40 million deal was originally a multinational chemicals and precious metals group but in recent years has branched out into what it sees as a technology with a bright future. “We are interested in the battery business in general and have been growing that aspect of our business through such acquisitions,” says the boss who took over in late January and currently commutes between Dundee and Cambridge. And no, not in a McLaren P1but by plane. And who knows when she will see that being battery-powered?

the times | Thursday February 12 2015


Business Insight

the future Gillian Easson of Creative Dundee highlights connectivity

level, such as the Scottish Dance Theatre, and the more underground grassroots creative communities. There appears to be much less of a hierarchy than is evident in other cultural hotspots.” The intrinsic support for creative ven-

tures from the city is the reason that the V&A Dundee has become the centrepiece of the Waterfront, says Stewart Murdoch. “It is a building with local and national vision. This is reflected in how it has been funded, with contributions from Dundee City Council and substantial local philanthropy as well as major contributions from the Scottish government, Creative Scotland and Heritage Lottery Fund.’ There has been an astute understanding that words such as “creative” and “design” have much wider applications than the artistic.


he UNESCO bid was based on design in all its guises. “Design should absolutely be at the heart of how the city does its business,” adds Stewart Murdoch. “Clearly it has to be about places and buildings, but it’s also about commodities, whether that’s making games or making tyres, as Michelin does. But the third domain is process, looking at the redesign of process in the public sector, how you design interventions to tackle medical conditions, and how you design for social engagement business. So we’ve taken place, product, and process and said we want all of these working together. With process, however, we can tackle social challenges. The UNESCO designation followed Dundee’s being shortlisted as UK City of Culture 2017. Creative Dundee was behind the “We Dundee” campaign that, as Gillian says, engaged more than 4000 people around the world in what Dundee’s future could be. It invited suggestions on what people would like to see, and many of the designled suggestions made their way into the

Embracing the vision “Today is the opening line of a new chapter in Dundee’s story.” So said Fiona Hyslop MSP at the official launch of Dundee ­— UNESCO City of Design. The cabinet secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs gave a fulsome speech at the event held in the University of Dundee’s new Discovery Centre for Translational and Interdisciplinary Research. “This award is down to the people of Dundee who have embraced the city’s design-led vision to change their communities, change their lives and regenerate the city. They join a network of other great UNESCO design cities

UNESCO City of Design bid document as testament to the appetite for design. The track record in digital innovation is becoming more widely known, but its future applications are already being explored more widely, particularly in the field of healthcare, as Gillian explains. “This is a huge growth sector. Just one example of that is the work that digital developers Guerilla Tea have been doing with Cancer Research UK on a game that, as you play, processes breast cancer data. It brings together the dual strengths of digital and life sciences.” Looking ahead, it appears that digital literacy will need to run hand in hand with the conventional. In more than half of Dundee’s primary schools there are Code Clubs, nurturing skills and looking to the development of the city’s digital might. Stewart Murdoch knows that, at the

alongside the likes of Berlin, Montréal and Shanghai using the power of design to promote cultural and creative talent and showcase our inspiring building design and places to the world.” Fiona Hyslop Showcasing designers from fashion to digital to jewellery and medicine, the event kicked off three days celebrating the status and setting out the city’s intentions to play a full part in the Creative Cities Network.

moment, the benefits of UNESCO status and the V&A Dundee might seem intangible to people who haven’t been immersed in the project, but he believes that the fact that building is not isolated, and has been placed in the correct context, will lead to its success. “It’s our job to make sure that there is a solid return to the city and the country on the investment. When we think back to the controversy and the outrage over a building like the Millennium Dome and now it’s a successful concert venue. Of course, it’s not always the way. Take the example of Tate St Ives. That’s a fantastic cultural building but there is no economic model behind it. “We have that model and now have the backing of UNESCO recognition — for our design heritage, for what we have already done, and for what is coming in the future.”


Crucial connections are created


t is no longer a surprise when the University of Dundee appears at the top or near the top of league rankings, in areas from student experience to research. As a centre of excellence in a range of areas its reputation is enviable, but it has set out its vision to become Scotland’s leading university. Its Transformation document is a solid plan that details not only the “what” but the “how”: the university will build on its existing strengths and make a determined effort in those areas where it can make a concrete difference and transform lives. There are three main strands. The first is promoting the sustainable use of global resources, the second is shaping the future through innovative design and the third is improving social, cultural and physical well-being, as Professor Pete Downes, principal of the University of Dundee explains. “Dundee has always been a university that’s been in and of the city. It has also been a university with international recognition. Merging those together is important.” Professor Downes believes that the university’s key role is to ensure that Dundee is globally connected. “We also need to make the connection between the academic work and its impact across society, whether that’s

economic, social or cultural,” he says. That approach has been vindicated in many areas already, with the University of Dundee ahead of every other UK university, including Oxford and Cambridge in the field of Biological Sciences. However, the impact of research is the key. “We pushed that out into company formation, and collaboration with bio tech and big pharma companies. Over 16 years, we have collaborated with many leading pharmaceutical companies, bringing more than Professor £50 million Pete investment Downes, into the principal city.” of the At the University moment, of Dundee biological sciences make up 16 per cent of the economy of Tayside – a clear indication of the role that the university has to play in regeneration. “Of course that’s not all of what Dundee is about,” adds Professor Downes. “The importance of the creative industries in economic expansion cannot be underestimated. Having the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design as Scotland’s leading institute in terms of design research has obviously played a part in

The university is combining its local presence with international recognition

the new V&A coming to Dundee.” Another area of vital importance is the development of offshore renewables. The University of Dundee is working in partnership with the University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University to deliver the talented graduates that will develop and support the offshore renewables in the port of Dundee. Professor Downes also believes that Dundee fits the profile of what is known

as a ‘Magnet City’. “Magnet cities are those which, for many years have been magnet repelling,” he says. “Populations have been going down and industry has been in decline. They are all reversing that polarity, however.” These are not the world’s major capitals, these are cities such as Bilbao, Pittsburgh, Malmo, and Christchurch. “What they have in common is a different offer – a difference pace and quality of life. All have investment partnerships, all have new areas of business growth, and all have high quality education and cultural assets.” Magnet Cities are those attracting young populations to new industries and have a strong offering for those who want to build not only a professional life there but also a family life. “When I first arrived in Dundee, the culture was a bit ‘back to the wall’. In some ways that was attractive, but there was a tendency to think that there was no solution. “Now there’s a greater confidence that we can do something about it. There are many things still to be remedied. We need to make our transport connections stronger and make it much easier for people to get here. “When people learn what this place has to offer, there’s no doubt that they will pass the message on.”

Thursday February 12 2015 | the times


Business Insight

Malmaison is one of several accommodation providers recognising the potential in Dundee, where it opened in a 120-year-old building

Accommodating city builds for big influx

Dundee is looking forward to a huge wave of visitors and is well on the way to building the sophisticated infrastructure to support further growth, reports Lorraine Wilson


hings are about to get busy An estimated 300,000 visitors will arrive in Dundee in the year following the opening of V&A Dundee. The built infrastructure will be in place to deal with the additional flow of people and traffic, but another aspect of the demands this will make on the city is also being tackled. Dundee already has some 9500 hospitality jobs, 6500 of those direct, representing around 13 per cent of employment. The demand for well-trained hospitality staff will rise markedly, as even after that first year it is estimated that Dundee will see an additional 300,000 visitors a year.

All will need to be accommodated, fed, watered, transported around the city and given advice about how they should spend their time. Accommodation providers are already seeing the potential and opening in the city, with more on the horizon. Malmaison is in place, inhabiting an iconic Dundee corner site close to the Waterfront. The Apex Hotel on City Quay is expanding into the adjacent Customs House, there will be a new Hilton opening to complement its Doubletree by Hilton at the western entrance to the city and Sleeperz is planning to open the hotel within the new Dundee railway station. Adrian Gillespie, managing director of operations at Scottish Enterprise points out that After the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao opened, there was a 25 per cent

increase in employment in its tourism and hospitality sectors, with knock-on job increases in other sectors. We are already seeing very encouraging investment in new hotels and restaurants in Dundee.” Over the past 12 months more than 20 new restaurants and bars have opened in the city, primarily independents. However, the international Project Pie, a pizza restaurant, has chosen Dundee for its first European outlet. Gary Thomson of Fuller Thomson was one of the first to recognise that Dundee was open to new culinary openings. In 1999, he took on the bar/restaurant franchise offered by the newly-opened Dundee Contemporary Arts, and Jute was born. Now with business partner Gordon Fuller, the company operates three successful bar/restaurants in Dundee with an additional three venues in Edinburgh. “It wasn’t a complete stab in the dark at the time,” says Gary. “I knew Dundee fairly well from growing up in Kinross, but over the 16 years I’ve been here, Dundee has changed enormously. It’s not purely a drinking culture now — it’s as

Dundee has changed enormously – the quality of the food offering and live music

much about the quality of the food offering, and often live music. That’s something that we’ve been able to develop with Duke’s Corner and Drouthy’s, but it has taken time and it’s something you’ll see right across the city centre now.” Being involved in the tourism strategy with hoteliers, Scottish Enterprise and business development from Dundee City Council, he sees a real desire to foster the culture of independent operators. “With so much expansion into the Waterfront there is the possibility of a good mixed offering. With the Wellgate redevelopment bringing a multiscreen cinema into the city centre, there might be the possibility of an independent feel at the Waterfront and perhaps a more, what you might call traditional offering at the shopping and cinema end of the city.” The tourism strategy is working on a format that can be used when they bring owners and operators together, hopefully next month. The city is also making investments in its own properties to provide suitable outlets to meet the increased demand for food and drink. Dundonians of a more mature vintage will have happy memories of the shopping arcade that ran to the rear of and below the Caird Hall. Now that Tayside House is no longer casting that building in its long shadow following its demolition, the council is creating four food and beverage units. “We are just about to shell them out,” says Mike Galloway, Director of City Development, “but we are already getting interest from people who want to go in there with restaurants and cafes.” Sitting alongside Gary Thomson on the tourism strategy group is Richard Ellison, general manager of the Doubletree by Hilton. He also has long experience of the city.

the times | Thursday February 12 2015


Business Insight “I was manager at this hotel when it was the Swallow. That was around 17 years ago, but since I came back just over four years ago things have been moving so quickly.” Ellison feels that it is vital that the accommodation offer matches that of the Waterfront development. “What we can’t do is create a city with a lot of budget brands,” he says. “All that does is push local brands and B&Bs to the back burner. It’s difficult enough for them having to pitch against the Hilton and Apex, particularly with the ease of booking online.” Although the recent slowdown in Aberdeen has had an effect on hotel bookings in Dundee, Richard feels that the priority is creating Dundee as a destination, with a good international and local offering in accommodation. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Dundee has the most exciting potential of any city in Scotland at the moment. If we can create the right destination, then everyone benefits. If we get that wrong, then we might have two to three years to enjoy it — but it will go away again.” The key to anything that a visitor comes into contact with is, of course, the people. Dundee has a good base, being renowned as a friendly city, but this demands more — it needs well-trained hospitality staff. We all know that the front desk, waiting staff and taxi drivers are the frontline in any hospitality city. With that in mind, Dundee is working towards the status of WorldHost City. WorldHost customer service training has already been used to train more than 150,000 people in the UK, including tens of thousands of volunteers and staff at

the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympics and 3000 ScotRail staff as part of their preparations for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Developed in Canada, it has been adapted for the UK by workforce development charity People 1st and covers all the areas of service. Making a good first impression is essential as is empathetic listening, and of course driving sales through good service. Those are just a few of the elements covered. More than 400 people have gone through the training in Dundee to date. “I’d love to see hoteliers and indeed everyone who will be in contact with visitors having great local knowledge,” adds Richard Ellison. “Staff should have a knowledge of local food and drink. They should be able to direct a guest to the kind of coffee shop or bar they are asking for. They should know about Arbroath Smokies. That societal link is absolutely crucial.” Providing Dundee’s expanding hospitality industry with more staff who are trained and ready to provide quality service is something that is being addressed in a serious way. Dundee and Angus College already offers courses that feed into the hospitality industry, so established links are there. “These skills as part of our regular offer. We have long supported the hospitality and tourism sectors with professional chefs, hospitality workers, event planners, front of house staff and customer service advisers,” says Veronica Lynch, Director of External Relations at Dundee and Angus College. “However, we are aware that we need to

work with industry on an even deeper basis to identify any additional skills that will be required when the V&A Dundee opens and the tourism offer expands rapidly. “We need to be able to provide for these increased numbers, but it’s not just the numbers, we need to make sure the right skills are in place. There are also ambitious plans to expand the offer of what we can deliver to students and industry. “At the moment we are working in partnership with organisations and examining some innovative models to help us best achieve what is required.” Dundee and Angus College is also look-

Dundee’s expanding hospitality industry has foundations in existing attractions

ing at providing HN qualifications in senior schools for those looking to follow vocational paths. This is a part of the Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce strategy and will minimise the amount of time that many young people need to study, equipping them to go straight into the workforce from school with the required qualifications. Tim Allan, president of Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce, agrees that Dundee needs to match the ambition of the change happening with the skills of its people. Continued on next page


Growing hearts and training entrepreneurs


ith expertise ranging from biomedical science to computer games, Abertay University is helping drive forward Dundee’s ambitions for the future. From its roots in the late 19th century providing skills for Dundee’s booming textile and maritime industries, the university has worked closely with the local community to improve people’s employment opportunities. Today the university is known internationally for its computer games degrees, preparing professionals to launch their own companies or take major roles in global studios including Rockstar North and Sony. Abertay’s links to the games industry trace back to the 1980s when Dave Jones studied at what was then known affectionately as the ‘Bell Street Tech’ before launching DMA Design, the company that created Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto and put Dundee’s design skills on show in millions of homes worldwide. His successes, and the growth of a cluster of local companies looking for specialist graduate skills, led to the university launching the world’s first Computer Games Technology degree in 1997. Graduates are able to secure jobs all over the world, but many choose to stay in Dundee and start their own game studios. These include Mark Hastings, co-founder of Guerilla Tea, who last year worked with Cancer Research UK on a game that helps process genetic cancer data, Play to Cure.

“Abertay’s Professional Masters degree brought our company’s founders together and helped launch Guerilla Tea,” Mark said. “We’ve created games for the BBC and the Beano and have ambitious plans for the year ahead. The Dundee creative community is incredibly vibrant and so we knew we wanted to build our business right here in Dundee.” The city’s entrepreneurial spirit is also alive and well in Dundee Business School, which is preparing for its annual Innovation for Global Growth event. Over three days students will work with senior managers from major global employers including Heineken, the NHS, RBS and Tokheim, helping them solve real challenges facing these organisations. Food science is another area of specialism at Abertay, with the Food Innovation @ Abertay team helping to support Scotland’s booming food and drink sector by providing expert consultancy on product development. The team were also at the heart of developing the definitive Dundee Cake recipe that has been submitted for EU protected geographical status. They used a matrix of 30 recipes – which spanned from the 1800s to the present day – and tested alternate recipes with over 400 Dundonians to decide which recipe would go forward in the application. World-leading research at Abertay spans a wide range of disciplines, from using computer games technology to visualise drugs interacting with cancer to taking fingerprints from bird feathers and eggs to catch people who kill endangered birds of prey.

Miniature human hearts are being grown in the laboratory of cancer biologist Professor Nikolai Zhelev to help find a cure for heart hypertrophy – a form of heart disease that can lead to sudden death. Made from stem cells, the tiny hearts are just 1mm in diameter and contract at around 30 beats per minute. The Abertay scientists use chemicals to simulate the physiological conditions that will make the initially healthy hearts become hypertrophic – enlarged, due to abnormal growth of the cells that make up the heart. The hearts are then treated with newly developed medications to see if they can prevent the damage from occurring. The Abertay scientists are also trying to reverse the damage in diseased hearts. “This is the first time it has ever been

Miniature human hearts are being grown at Abertay, above, while Mark Hastings of Guerilla Games has worked on Play to Cure

possible to induce disease in human hearts grown in labs, and we’re looking at a disease for which there is no known cure,” says Professor Zhelev. “Heart cells are the only ones in the body that will never get cancer, but we noticed that the pathways the molecules in hypertrophic hearts follow are similar to those followed by molecules in cancerous cells. We’re having some positive early results using a drug we’re developing separately for cancer patients.” Abertay University is a proud partner in Dundee’s rapid regeneration, from becoming the UK’s first UNESCO City of Design to the growth of its cultural and entrepreneurial communities, and is committed to delivering real-world benefits through its teaching and research. www.abertay.ac.uk

Thursday February 12 2015 | the times


Business Insight

Continued from previous page “The frontline sells the city,” he says. “Even at the V&A Dundee, no one will see the world-class curator but they will see the reception staff, the guides, the restaurant staff. I would also like to see the introduction of a living wage in an intelligent city like Dundee. We need to value the people who will be our link with visitors.” Everyone who has worked in the hospitality industry is aware that complaints can, by and large, be dealt with — the problem comes with visitors who don’t complain but decide never to return. That’s why hoteliers like Richard Ellison know that the basic principles of WorldHost training make a destination with potential truly world class. “Of course everyone in hotels will go through the training, but the process needs to be much wider than hotels. “Often transport staff are the first contact and it’s crucial that the first encounter is a good one.” Richard is confident that Dundee has the variety in place, from the excellent B&Bs to the budget chains to the variety of four star hotels, to be a quality hospitality destination, not just for the global leisure market but also worldwide conference business. “Now is the time to seize the opportunity and put Dundee on the map. We also have the added benefits of being so close to locations such as Carnoustie and St Andrews. There’s no doubt that Dundee can become a serious player in hospitality.”

The once in a century opportunity


ith its building and the Waterfront context already receiving awards, the V&A Dundee team has been reaching out to the community to explain what it will offer. As the only V&A and the only UK purpose-built design museum outside of London, the Dundee project has the opportunity to showcase not only superb design but also the less tangible aspects of the process. “There are a number of elements at the heart of the project,” says Philip Long, director at V&A Dundee. “Its aim is to help visitors develop an understanding of design as something that contributes to improving our everyday lives. “That’s one of the problems with the word ‘design’ I feel. It’s ubiquitous and so can become invisible. “There will also be a design-led business innovation programme, where designers will work with industry to infuse that thinking into the business process. It reaches back to the 19th-century mission of the V&A — to help improve the quality of the country’s manufacturing. We can look at that for the post-

The V&A Dundee will be the UK’s only purposebuilt design museum outside of London

Ga. Otae arcillabor repudip idundandam, enihici utem et

industrial age of the 21st-century.” There is also a solid financial contribution to be made. In economic terms, the project’s estimated contribution to the local and national economy is an added £11.6 million per annum. Among the outreach projects so far are several visiting exhibitions and innovations such as Living Room for the City. On February 13, a national

outreach programme begins, in collaboration with the Travelling Gallery. Design in Motion will visit 70 locations across Scotland in this purpose-built gallery on wheels, showcasing Scottish design talents whose work is being transformed through the adoption of new digital technologies. “This is only one aspect of the preopening programme. In many ways, the V&A Dundee is already here and

beginning its mission to change the understanding of design,” adds Philip Long. “However, there is absolutely no doubt that the building is a turnkey project — an opportunity that comes once in a hundred years. And given the challenges that the city has faced over the past 50 years, it is a remarkable symbol of Dundee’s new ambition.” To see when Design in Motion is near you, visit www.vandadundee.org.


Historic seaport that harbours dynamic ambition The facilities at the Port of Dundee are generating new business in sectors from oil and gas to cruise ships


undee has come a long way since its days as a seaport town, and the success of this city’s regeneration is reflected in the story of its port, an area that has moved, quite literally, with the changing times. Owned by Forth Ports, the Port of Dundee benefits from a dynamic east coast location, midway between Aberdeen and the central belt, on the north side of the sheltered Firth of Tay. Renowned as an agricultural hub, more than 250,000 tonnes of products are moved through the port each year. However, the extensive facilities offered by this port, which has also been identified as one of Scotland’s top locations for renewable manufacturing, are also helping to generate and develop success in sectors as diverse as oil and gas to cruise ships. Stuart Wallace, divisional director of

Forth Ports, says the Port of Dundee’s evolution remains at the heart of the city’s continuing resurgence. “If you look at the way the port has developed over the past 100 years, then as it has grown, it has moved east from the city,” he explains. “This has allowed the older and smaller areas to be used for property development. The Camperdown and Victoria docks have become key to the city’s regeneration, with high-quality office and hotel accommodation, and the Old Harbour building is earmarked to become a five-star boutique hotel. The port’s success has allowed that evolution to happen.” Over the past four years, the Port of Dundee has also been building up the tenants and service providers providing end to end solutions for the North Sea oil and gas industry, from businesses that run ancillary service vessels to those involved in rig repair or sub-sea fabrication, to end-of-life work.

Stuart Wallace, divisional director of Forth Ports

“We can provide the necessary supply chain to meet the demand for maintenance, repair and decommissioning,” says Wallace. “We want to deliver the range of services so project managers know they can come to Dundee, and find what they need in one port. “The big focus over the next 20 to 30 years is going to be the multi-billionpound North Sea oil and gas decommissioning market. Many people assume this will all have to be concentrated in and around ports with large decommissioning or dry dock facilities, but the fact is much of the work is suited to ports along the east coast of Scotland. “Dundee has a lot to offer, the port is rarely closed and because it is so sheltered it isn’t badly affected by more severe weather. “While the port was never designed for the really huge structures, it still has a great capability. Last year, we were approached by Robertson Metals Recycling, who needed a dockside facility with direct quay

access. As a result, Dundee Decommissioning will be specialising in marine-oil rig decommissioning and recycling at their purpose-built base by the dockside.” For a city, and a port, hewn by manufacturing and heavy industry, the idea it is fast becoming a must-stop location for cruise ship tourism may seem unlikely. Yet Dundee’s strengths as a destination, and as a gateway to the rest of Tayside and Fife, are flourishing. “Last year, two cruise ships berthed in the Port of Dundee,” says Wallace. “This year, we already have six booked in, and interest is starting to grow. We have good marine access straight up the river to berth, and we can accommodate pretty big ships, though not the huge liners. “At the port we have a strong relationship with Dundee City Council, and they have been working hard to promote the city as it revives and renews itself. Ambitious plans around the waterside are reconnecting the river to the city, providing a great balance for tourism and business. From the outset Dundee waterfront regeneration had the port as part of that plan, and with talking to the cruise ship companies, Dundee is emerging again as a strong tourist attraction. “Tayside and Fife have a lot to offer, and the V&A Dundee will be an international centre on the waterfront. With this year’s Open at St Andrews, it moves to Royal Troon in 2016 and back to Carnoustie in 2018.” Wallace believes the symbiotic relationship between city and port can only bring further benefits to Dundee as a whole. “Every time I go away from Dundee and then return I see something different,” he adds. “Whether it’s a new road, a building or development, there is such a buzz here, a vibrancy. This is an exciting time for the Port of Dundee.”

the times | Thursday February 12 2015


Business Insight


Investment in a city with solid past and future of innovation Sound values and independent thinking are key to Stephen Webster. Ginny Clark talks to a chief executive about his opportune homecoming


he news that Dundee has become the UK’s first UNESCO City of Design was just the latest chapter in a success story that has brought a global spotlight to the beautiful banks of the River Tay. A forward-thinking local authority, world class research facilities and innovative creative industries, have all helped to lift a city fired by 19th century craft and graft, and position it at the forefront of 21st century innovation. Now a cosmopolitan city with highquality infrastructure, this is a thriving cultural and business environment, where low living and employment costs create an attractive life-work location. For Stephen Webster, chief executive of Thorntons Investment Management, coming home to Dundee has not only meant an emotional reconnection, but it’s also provided him with a renewed sense of optimism. “Dundee is a great place to do business,” he says. “Dundee City Council has a long term strategy, and it is really energising to operate in a city environment where there is that breadth of vision. I’m not sure many other UK cities have that same long term view. “It makes a difference to know there is that kind of platform, and you can feel a real sense of energy down here by the Waterside. It makes doing business more pleasant, and as a Dundonian who has returned to work here, it gives me a feeling of pride about how things have progressed.” As part of Thorntons Solicitors, the Thorntons Investment business was first set up in 1995 to manage the investment portfolios of a small number of the legal firm’s clients. Four years on, and the business was offering a financial planning service to clients with increasingly complex requirements. Last year the investment business separated from the legal firm to form the company Thorntons Investment Management Ltd, although as the name suggests, it is still proud of the heritage and values first instilled in a law firm that can trace its roots back to 1857, when Sir Thomas Thornton first began a legal practice in Dundee. In the three years that Webster has been at the helm, the number of funds under management has grown by more than 60 per cent, from £210 million to £350 million. Over the next five years, the aim is to continue that growth, and he believes its Dundee base, alongside its offices in Edinburgh and St Andrews, provides a strong and dynamic environment for his team as they work towards managing £1 billion in investment assets by 2020. “Our unique selling point is definitely where we are headquartered,” says Webster. “Some might assume we would want to be based in a financial hub such as

Stephen Webster is keen that Thorntons takes advantage of the city’s growing skills base

Edinburgh. However, what is really positive about being positioned away from that kind of centre is that it forces you to think independently, and we have developed our own view of asset management. Our products reflect our innovative approach to investment management, and we’ve built our success through sound financial analysis and identifying market trends that often are overlooked through the noise of bigger financial hubs.. “Our clients are offered something different, and we are proud to say that in some ways, we are slightly old-fashioned. We offer personal client service, and are very much part of the community in which we are based. “Our natural investment instinct is to protect our clients’ wealth and so we are typically risk averse in our outlook, continually assessing whether our investments present good, long-term value for our clients. We feel our independent thinking coupled with our old-fashion values are a great combination. “However, being at a distance from the financial capital does not mean we are out of touch. We have access to some of the most important research money can buy. We are very factually based, analytical, and given the breadth of information available on investment funds there is a huge amount of data to assess. All of this information informs our judgment, and in accessing that we tap into the same company information and research available to firms who are much larger than us.”


or Thorntons Investment Management, as for the spirit that defines the city of Dundee, the future is going to be one of discovery. Continued growth will mean recruitment and investment within the business, and that means ensuring they tap into the skills and experience available in a city that has one of the highest student ratios per head of population anywhere in the UK. “As we continue to grow we will be looking to expand our footprint in Dundee and take advantage of the growing skills base within the city,” adds Webster. “The city is a centre of educational excellence and it is our intention to try to retain the skills learnt in the colleges and universities, and give graduates an opportunity for a rewarding career in financial services here in Dundee. “Our future growth will come through our vision to develop a unique approach to managing investment models and funds — the Thorntons way of doing things if you like. “Ultimately, this is all about what we can provide for each of our individual clients. Every client is different, and their financial needs vary significantly, so we work to make sure every solution we offer is designed especially for them.”

Fast facts

Out natural investment outlook is to protect our clients’ wealth so we are typically risk averse in our outlook

Stephen Webster, chief executive of Thorntons Investment Management Ltd, has 25 years experience in the investment industry, with an extensive knowledge of model portfolio methodology, private equity and corporate pension legislation. In the late 1990s he completed an MBA at Edinburgh University that led to an entrepreneurial focus that he took to Bank of Scotland’s investment business. After the collapse of HBOS in 2008 and

an attempted management buyout of the bank’s investment business, Webster joined Thorntons Law in 2012 to run their investments. Since then assets have grown to almost £350m and the decision was taken in 2014 to separate the investment department from the legal firm and form a separate investment company. Webster is also a governor on the board of the Patrick Allan-Fraser of Hospitalfield Art Trust, which is based in Arbroath.

Thursday February 12 2015 | the times


Business Insight

Marching to an urgent tune NHS Charge Nurse Ian Donald holds the rank of Major in Dundee-based 225 Medical Regiment

Reserve Forces and Cadets are increasingly playing a role in knowledge transfer and Dundee is a major centre, finds Rick Wilson


here are two views of Dundee that inspire Colonel AK Miller. One is a breathtaking aspect of the Tay as seen from his baywindowed office in a well-elevated west end Victorian pile; the other is his appreciation of the city’s considerable, historic and ongoing contribution to the Defence of the Realm. He is part of that himself, of course, as he presides as chief executive of the Highland Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association (HRFCA), one of Scotland’s two such associations. “We cover an area that runs from the Forth-Clyde Canal to the Shetlands,” he says, “to support and look after all the Reserve Forces and Cadets across the Highlands and Islands.” So while the Lowlands and the urban Central Belt concentration is cared for by his opposite number, in the rest of the land there is a Reserve Forces and Cadet presence aplenty, 150 in all, keeping his attention on a daily basis and all keen to attract new recruits: notably the cities of Aberdeen, Inverness, Stirling, Perth, and this great riverside base of his operation. Dundee, including its neighbours of Leuchars and Cupar, is currently home to a wide range of Reserve units and attendant opportunities in such diverse fields as the Royal Naval and Royal Marines Reserves, specialist Army roles including infantry, armour, medics and engineers, as well as RAF medical specialists. The local area boasts numerous Cadet units too. “Traditionally, this city has always been very supportive of both Regular Forces and Reserves,” he says in the context of defining a significant part of his organisation’s work — “the broad business of engagement with civil society that we conduct on behalf of Defence”. This is currently focused on what is known as FR20, the 2013 White Paper setting out plans to restructure and change the use of Britain’s Reserve Forces and how, as a consequence, they will represent a far greater proportion of the Armed Forces and fully integrated with their Regular counterparts. Success in this depends significantly on the responses of Reservists’ day-job bosses, and Colonel Miller notes with satisfaction how many of Dundee’s employers — DC Thomson, the City Council, Strathmore Farming, NHS Tayside, and Michelin — have achieved framedcertificate silver awards, as a measure of their supportive attitudes, in the new Employer Recognition Scheme. But this is by no means all they can expect in reward for releasing workforce talent, asserts the Colonel, stressing that “Defence is very keen to be seen to re-

ciprocate; to show that the relationship with employers shouldn’t be perceived as a one-way track”. So what else is being done to engage firms within the overall aim of raising awareness of the benefits of having Reservists on their workforces? He cites the following: „„ Improved communication — with commanding officers of Reservist units providing employers with notification in writing of plans for training exercises and deployments, as well as a summary of their achievements during the previous year. „„ Moves towards aligning military skills training beneficial to employer and Reservist alike in the form of civilian accreditation. „„ Enhancing of financial provisions to ease any disadvantage to employers, with specific assistance for ‘small and medium-size enterprises’ when an employee is mobilised. „„ Introduction of an Armed Forces Corporate Covenant, providing opportunities for

employers to publicly demonstrate their support for, and commitment to, Defence. The last point has powerful emotional appeal in terms of doing one’s bit for one’s country and Colonel Miller says he doesn’t need the persuasive power of his refined diplomatic skills — acquired in British embassies in the US and Israel — to draw on employers’ national loyalty. “I’ve been in this job for eight years and can honestly say I have not once come across an employer hostile to this kind of corporate social responsibility. Indeed, many firms now have this written firmly into their personnel policies.” But for all interested parties the main attraction is training. “Releasing valued people can be inconvenient for companies, but there’s a balance to be struck. The clearest advantage for businesses is the provision of transferable skills and the building of stronger characters that comes from real service in places like Afghanistan and now West Africa amid the Ebola crisis.” Skills such as? Leadership and acceptance of responsibility; enhanced personal

Cadets from the Massed Cadets’ Pipes and Drums drawn from the Army Cadet Force and Air Training Corps at Balmoral Castle

Cadet Experience hits the road There are 5,000 Army, Sea and Air Cadets in the HRFCA’s Highland area, every one of which stands to benefit from an opportunity to gain life skills and to acquire personal qualities that are, in Colonel Miller’s view, far less well appreciated than they should be. Hence an initiative designed to raise awareness of The Cadet Experience. “We’re putting together a programme of different informative sessions at venues across Scotland,” says Col Miller. “And engaging with potential stakeholders including educationalists, government bodies, employers and the wider community.” The Cadet Experience for the young people of the Cadet Organisations includes, amid the adventure and sport, CV-strengthening elements such as vocational qualifications and the chance to develop leadership and teamworking skills together with the kind of positive attitude and perseverance that will serve them well in the future.

And it all adds up to enhanced self-esteem, confidence, problem-solving and creativity — as confirmed by Dundee-based student and Apex Hotel porter Kevin Denton, who is something of a Cadet veteran at 17. He has been with St Mary’s Black Watch (Angus and Dundee) Battalion Army Cadet Force for five years, taking part every Thursday, some weekends and two “away” weeks every year when he instructs on drill, fieldcraft, map-reading, and first aid — as well as undertaking training courses himself. What does it give him to take back to his daily life, which includes sports coaching and fitness at college? “It just gives me really good confidence,” he says, “to go along with all the excitement and adventure.” But what do his employers think of his absences? “They’re quite fine about it,” he says. Which is not surprising, when you consider what he brings to the workplace.

qualities like self-discipline, reliability, determination and resourcefulness; and practical skills including problem-solving and specialist hi-tech expertise. While such experience boosts Reservists’ self-confidence, there is a balance to be struck here too, weighing that up against competing demands of family and work; and often, it’s a win-win result, as confirmed — for example — by NHS charge nurse Ian Donald, 41, a father of three who has been in the Reserves since 1996 and now holds the rank of Major in Dundee-based 225 Medical Regiment as their clinical training officer. It’s a role that demands leadership skills — acquired, he believes, from the training offered and the camaraderie of working with fellow medical professionals in the field — which for him has stretched to Cyprus, Holland, Germany, Georgia and Gibraltar. He also believes his career progression at Dundee’s “very understanding” Ninewells Hospital — which gives him an extra two weeks paid leave for annual camp — has been helped by the Reserves’ leadership training. “It has certainly helped me to be so much more confident about taking on responsibility there,” he says.


orporal Stuart McAllan, 30, thinks similarly. He is a pharmacy technician in his day job and also in his Reserves role with the RAF’s 612 Squadron based at Leuchars. He is deeply appreciative of the Reserves’ Junior Leadership Management Training scheme which has given him added value in people management, he believes. “In monetary terms, according to the Chartered Management Institute, that’s worth £4000,” he says. It is no secret, of course, that Reservist recruitment has not always kept pace with the requirements of FR20. But that could be changing. “In the last quarter Scotland actually exceeded targets in both Reserve and Regular recruiting,” says Miller. “And pipeline delays that might have seen some applicants lose interest — long waits for medical clearance, for example — have been addressed with enormous effort and the system is now a lot more responsive.” Generally on target then? “I believe the target, 35,000 overall, mainly for the Army Reserve but including 5,000 for the other two services, is perfectly achievable. Yes, the system is more streamlined now. It’s still not perfect but it’s an evolving picture. “There are places where it is easier to recruit than in others — Dundee being more fruitful than job-rich Aberdeen, for instance. But times can change, even for the Granite City, so the recruiting organisation is learning to be quite agile in terms of where it gets its people.” For further information on the Reserve Forces please call 01382 668283 or email hi-admin@rfca.org.uk

Profile for Smith Design Solutions


Business Insight Scotland 12th February 2015


Business Insight Scotland 12th February 2015