The Angus Fund Outline Business Case (OBC) was approved by the Tay Cities Deal Joint Committee as further details and timings were revealed of the £26.5m investment from UK Government.

The Angus Fund was created to achieve an investment balance across the region and it’s purpose is to increase productivity through clean growth, protecting places for future generations to live, work, and visit.

The fund will be used to invest in projects across Angus to be developed collaboratively with Angus Council and other local partners as part of the Deal. It  will be used as an enabler to support the broader vision of public and private funding which has been called The Mercury Programme. This will contribute to the development and implementation of innovative, clean technologies, which will also significantly reduce the region’s carbon footprint; contributing to national reductions in carbon use.

The OBC was supported by Mr Archie Gibson, of Agrico UK Ltd, one of the partner organisations, who spoke at the Joint Committee. He outlined further details of the agritech concept - the Centre for Agricultural Sustainable Innovation (CASI).

Mr Gibson said, “The aim of the CASI is to facilitate collaboration between agri businesses and promote farm based innovations with a central hub coordinating activities across a network of participating sites.  This will estabish Angus as an area of agricultural research excellence, attracing further jobs and investment. In addition, the work will help feed the country while reducting the environmental impact of established farming methods and addressing the new challenges presented by climate change such as altered risks from pests and diseases.”

The OBC outlined the four main areas of the CASI, while stressing that data sharing, clean growth and low carbon would also feature across all centres.

  • Neutral Spirit Plant  – transforming ‘co’ or ‘by’ products -essentially second grade or excess agricultural crops that are typically destined for lower value animal feed and/or dumping - into produce premium neutral spirit to supply the artisan gin and vodka market, also a growth industry across Angus and Scotland.
  • Innovation Farm - a specialist Agritech facility which is focused on tech validation, development and demonstration in a real life environment. This would provide support to entrepreneurs with
    • Office / workshop space
    • Collaboration opportunities
    • Business development advice
  • Precision Farming Facilities – looking at enhancing machinery/robotics for maximum efficiencies, researching new power sources enhanced data usage  while attracting and training of the next generation of tech savy and computer literate farmers.
  • Technical Quality Centre – collecting data and analysis of products such as seed potatoes – an industry in which Scotland produces over 75 per cent of the total UK demand, currently worth over £112m to the Scottish economy. By centralising testing and quality evaluation facilities the centre will provide farmers with invaluable data on crop performance, marketable yeild and quality while allowing them to aggregate data on productivity over a multiple years and varying crop rotations. This will help to move their products and farming methods from good to great, thereby improving output and margins.

More information on the how the Angus Fund will support the Mercury Programme

It is proposed that Angus Council and partners will develop the OBC and Full Business Cases (FBCs) for the Agritech CASI and the Mercury Drone Projects early in 2021/22. Subsequent OBC/FBC’s for the remaining projects will submitted in due course for the remaining projects identified above over the ten year period of the financial profile of the TCD.

UK Government Minister Iain Stewart said, “These innovative projects will unlock Angus’ potential as a powerhouse of clean, green jobs and growth. 

“Together we will build back better from the pandemic and secure a prosperous and sustainable future for our communities.

“We have now committed more than £1.5 billion to City Region and Growth Deals in every part of Scotland.” 

Angus Council Leader, Cllr David Fairweather said, “The Angus Fund has allowed us to raise our ambition for the future of Angus and to plan well beyond the next ten years of the Tay Cities Deal. We will use the fund wisely to establish centres of excellence that will endure and deliver sustainable economic and environmental growth for decades to come”.

Chair of the Tay Cities Deal Joint Committee, Councillor John Alexander, said: “Innovation and sustainability are at the heart of the Deal. This Fund will support the development and implementation of clean technologies which significantly reduce the region’s carbon footprint and create opportunities for the future.”