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11 Business Bites: Perth and Fife energy merger, Dundee EV training school opens and new Living Wage employers

The Courier's weekly round up of positive business stories from Dundee, Angus, Perthshire and Fife.
The Courier's weekly round up of positive business stories from Dundee, Angus, Perthshire and Fife.

Every Monday morning The Courier publishes a weekly round-up of some of the many positive business stories from Dundee, Angus, Fife and Perthshire.

Thanks to everyone who has been sending in story ideas and please keep these coming to business@thecourier.co.uk.

And also please consider signing up for the business team’s new daily newsletter (sign up box under the main image on any business story).

Let’s get to this week’s Business Bites.

1. Fife and Perth energy consultants merge

Perth-based energy consultancy MDG Group and Dunfermline’s European Utility Consultants have merged to form Here’s The Plan.

With offices on Perth’s Tay Street, the merger and subsequent further growth of the team has created jobs in the city.

The Here’s The Plan team.

Here’s The Plan helps firms with energy, water and telecoms contracts. It can also offer expertise on all aspects of utilities, sustainability, and compliance.

Business development director Annette Welch said: “There’s lots of noise about how to achieve net zero, but the reality is that each business has to figure out their own path.

“There are plenty of businesses theoretically consulting on how to go about it, but very few offering to plan, deliver and hold your hand the whole way through.”

2. Dundee firm certified as carbon neutral

TEXO, with offices at Dundee Port, has offset its total carbon footprint for the financial year 2020-21 to become certified as a Carbon Neutral Business.

The firm has worked with Carbon Neutral Britain to plan its journey towards net zero by 2023.

Texo Group managing director Chris Smith.

Group managing director Chris Smith said: “By breaking down our emissions in this way we can see where we have most negative impact.

“We will continue working with Carbon Neutral Britain to offset future emissions and see how we can change our working practices to reduce them overall.”

3. EV training school opens in Dundee

Dundee and Angus College has established the Electric Vehicle Training School to train mechanics, first responders and those in the motor trade on maintenance and repair of EVs.

The college aims to bridge the skills gap within the motor trade around EVs and prevent local garages from being forced out of the market.

Economics partnership manager Caryn Gibson, head of curriculum and quality at Dundee and Angus College Stephen Swinley, Cllr John Alexander and EV adventurer Chris Ramsey at the opening.

Head of curriculum and quality for engineering Stephen Swinley said: “The motor industry is changing at a pace not seen for generations.

“There has never been a more vitally needed facility than this if independent mechanics are to retain a place in the market.

“Our courses are also designed for recovery drivers, paramedics, firefighters, or even fleet drivers, there are necessary skills required to work around electric vehicles to keep yourself safe and prevent damage.”

The College offers three levels of courses at Robert Lawson and Sons on Kilspindie Road. Courses can be booked online and limited funding is available.

4. Fife jam maker preserves Chapel’s links with Kingdom

Pittenweem Preserves is helping to maintain Rosslyn Chapel’s historic links with Fife by offering a selection of jams for sale in the Chapel gift shop.

Fiona Audsley started the company with her husband Michael in 2018 when a local store asked her to supply homemade jam to sell to locals and visitors.

She makes all the preserves in maslin pans, with fruit sourced from local farms and gardens wherever possible.

Fiona Audsley has taken her Pittenweem jams to Rosslyn Chapel.

Director of Rosslyn Chapel Trust Ian Gardner said: “Rosslyn Chapel was founded by Sir William St Clair in 1446 and the St Clair family connections with Fife date back to 1471 when Ravenscraig Castle was given to Sir William in exchange for the Earldom of Orkney.

“It’s therefore a very appropriate new addition for us and, as the Trust is a registered charity, every purchase will support our conservation work.”

5. Dundee firm wins funding to develop AI tool

Thermal imaging company IRT has won funding from The Data Lab to develop and use AI to reduce heat loss in homes and support Scotland’s net zero strategy.

The firm identifies how housing developers can make their property portfolio more energy efficient through thermal imaging data capture and analyses.

IRT will work with Robert Gordon University to develop software to automatically remove objects like trees and cars from its thermal image scans, saving time in manual cropping.

IRT chief technology officer Alan Little and chief executive Stewart Little.

Once the system is live it will speed up the pre-processing of images by 10x, allowing the IRT team to focus more of their time on analysing the processed data.

Stewart Little, CEO at IRT, said: “Image cropping has become a very labour-intensive task for us resulting in bottlenecks for our relatively small team.

“Once the software has been developed, our team will once again be able to focus on image analysis which will increase the quality of service we provide our customers.”

6. Angus therapist designs mats to help children learn

Gail Penman, therapist and director of NEWSolutions CIC, has created ‘trail mats’ to help primary pupils overcome emotional barriers to learning.

NEWSolutions provides mental health and wellbeing support to pupils, as well as mental health training in workplaces in Angus and Dundee.

The idea for the mats was born in lockdown, as teachers identified a need for a portable resource to give pupils a break.

Gail Penman holds a wall mat while Emma Gibson (6) uses a space-themed mat at Borrowfield Primary, watched by school pupil support assistant Cherrylynne Shepherd and Emma’s dad Mark whose employer Orchard Flooring Products co-sponsored the mats.

By doing games and challenges on the mat, pupils get a break from learning and are able to focus better afterwards.

Gail says: “Our focus is on improving wellbeing and resilience by actioning evidenced-based interventions and this is a simple, cost-effective way to enable teachers and other school staff to do that.”

7. First Perthshire eco business badge awarded

Pitlochry and District Climate Cafe has made the first award of its new eco business badge to local accommodation provider Julia Harriman and The Paddle Nook.

As sustainability is rapidly becoming a factor in tourists’ booking choices, the Pitlochry Climate Cafe wants to help accommodation providers improve their green credentials.

Hosts in the area can apply for a Pitlochry Eco Business badge on the Pitlochry Climate Cafe website.

8. Dundee firm donates PPE to programme for young people

Stiven has donated personal protective equipment to Alexander Community Development’s Transition to Trade programme.

The Dundee-based employability programme is for young people looking to make their first or next step into the construction industry.

The donation included 24 boiler suits and high-vis vests from the workwear and PPE supplier.

Boiler suits from Stiven Online have been branded for the programme.

Stiven sales manager Mark McNally said: “We are impressed with what ACD does and continues to do for the local community.

“With our core ideals aligning so well, it’s only natural to form some sort of partnership.

“Making sure young people are fully equipped with quality PPE is what Stiven is all about.”

9. Fife recruitment agency unveils new office

Connect Appointments has opened a new office on Kirkcaldy’s Carlyle Street.

The firm specialises in commercial, industrial and manufacturing, technical, and engineering recruitment.

Connect Appointments Kirkcaldy branch manager Kenneth McGuigan.

It also supplies businesses around the UK with temporary, permanent, and contract staff.

Connect Appointments previously occupied an office in the Mitchelston Industrial Estate.

10. Dundee University enters partnership to develop healthcare tech

The University of Dundee will work with the Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI) to develop innovative healthcare technologies.

ABHI is the leading UK industry association for health technology, which is a key component of the Growing the Tay Cities Biomedical Cluster project.

ABHI chief executive Peter Ellingworth and University of Dundee head of IP and commercialisation Anne Muir.

Dundee University head of IP and commercialisation Anne Muir said: “Our strategy is to accelerate innovative solutions into the healthcare market, be it new surgical devices, digital clinical decision-making tools or disruptive technologies.

“We can help bring life changing technology into the hands of patients, clinicians and others who need it most.”

11. Dundee and Angus firms named Living Wage employers

Dundee Rep, Scottish Dance Theatre and Angus Grill + Larder have become Living Wage employers, paying their workers a minimum wage of £9.90 per hour.

The Brechin eatery is the second hospitality in Angus to make the commitment.

angus grill and larder
Chef manager Kieran Turner and owner Will MacPherson outside Angus Grill + Larder.

Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre joins over 90 accredited Living Wage employers in the city.

Since 2011, the Living Wage movement has delivered a pay rise to over 54,000 people in Scotland and put over £310 million extra into the pockets of low paid Scottish workers.

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