A former tyre factory is launching a skills academy and innovation labs to accelerate Scotland’s move to future technologies after receiving a £2.1 million funding boost.

National economic agency Scottish Enterprise announced the package for the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc (MSIP) in Dundee to deliver the project, which will act as a “launch pad” for green transport technologies as Scotland aims to reach net zero by 2045.

Dundee and Angus College will provide the curriculum, expertise and hands-on knowledge for budding mechanics and transport engineers at the “state-of-the-art” facility.

The funding aligns with the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation aim to create a partnership between education and skills providers and employers to deliver training opportunities for the new green jobs of the future.

Economy secretary Kate Forbes said: “This £2.1 million investment in the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc Skills Academy aligns closely with the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation ambition for public, private and third sector partnerships to work together to make Scotland’s workforce more agile and support employers to invest in emerging economic opportunities.

“The academy in Dundee will bring existing skills and knowledge from the city’s college and universities together with industry, to deliver new skills, for new technologies. This will support the implementation of the Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan to align Scotland’s skills system with business needs to reach net zero.

“Enhancing access to skills training will help create new, high-quality green jobs, enhance regional growth, and improve access to growing low carbon markets across the globe for Scotland’s diverse businesses.”

Greig Coull, chief executive of MSIP, said: “The MSIP Skills Academy will complement Scotland’s drive to become net zero by 2045. To achieve these ambitious targets, we need advanced technology and infrastructure, but we also require future-focussed skills. The MSIP Skills Academy provides an opportunity for Scotland to be at the forefront of this movement.

“The MSIP Skills Academy is a fundamental part of our core offer. It’s been designed to meet the evolving needs of the Sustainable Mobility and Decarbonisation industries as well as those of the local and national economy. It is an incredibly valuable aspect in the onboarding of our tenants at the Innovation Parc.

“Our partnership with Dundee and Angus College has been crucial to the success of the creation of the MSIP Skills Academy. It’s an exceptional institution and their knowledge and expertise in further education, when paired with our industry perspective, has been invaluable.”

The Skills Academy was announced in 2019 as part of the initial MSIP plan devised following the announcement of the planned closure of the former Michelin tyre factory on the site.

This funding will help bring forward the delivery of the Skills Academy by future-proofing some of the material works to enhance Scotland’s reputation in the global low carbon transport innovation sector.

The announcement comes as Forbes met with students and workers at Dundee & Angus College to hear how the new facilities will benefit the workforce of the future.

Simon Hewitt, principal of Dundee & Angus College, said: “As we move to a fairer, greener economy the enhancement of existing skills, and the development of new skills, will be absolutely critical to ensuring we have a workforce that is ready to support the move to net zero.

“The MSIP Skills Academy will play a key role in the delivery of these skills for local businesses and practitioners, and will provide an inspiring, innovative and future focused environment to encourage more young people to pursue a career in the green economy.”

The Academy, which is due to open later this year, will feature five zones focusing on specific skills:

  • green energy, incorporating hydrogen, battery storage and development, clean growth, bio economy and low carbon,
  • practical engineering skills and machine workshops,
  • technology and innovation, creating the digital engineer of the future,
  • an impressive wind turbine workshop with a practical area allowing students to gain real experience of working at height, rope access, H&S and confined space training,
  • and the Data Zone, using smart technology and digital sensors to create digital twins, with a remote control room for simulation of remote wind turbine technology.

By summer of next year, the Academy aims to have welcomed 500 school pupils as part of its STEM – science, technology, engineering and technology – outreach activity and be training 250 full-time students and apprentices.

The funding will also allow the fit-out of adjacent innovation labs, supporting collaboration and innovation between organisations, businesses, researchers and academic institutions.

The Innovation Labs are the main place for industry ranging from potential startups to established multinational organisations to base themselves, conduct research, develop new ideas, prototype and test them to get necessary technical feedback and insights.

Jane Martin, Scottish Enterprise managing director for business services and advice, said: “We are proud to support the Scottish Government’s new economic strategy as it sets out to promote Scotland as an innovative test bed for new technologies and markets.

“The Skills Academy will be a huge asset for MSIP and will really enhance the reputation of Dundee and Scotland as a whole in the emerging and exciting new markets and innovation around sustainable transport. This really will help put us at the forefront of the net zero economy industries.”