Highlands and Islands Enterprise Newsroom

23 January 2019, 09:00

Work starts on Lochaber Newton Room

Work starts on Lochaber Newton Room: Science Skills Academy 2 - credit Alison White HIE

Work is underway in Fort William to create one of Scotland’s first Norwegian style learning centres.

Newton Rooms are designed to encourage more young people into careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

A network of the centres in Norway work with schools and local employers to provide inspirational STEM education in the most rural parts of the country.

A similar network of Newton Rooms is being created in the Highland region by the Science Skills Academy, a partnership project led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), with £3m from the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal.

Other organisations behind the initiative include Skills Development Scotland, the University of the Highlands and Islands, The Highland Council and NHS Highland.

A new STEM centre is planned for Lochaber in the next two or three years. In the meantime, an interim Newton Room is being created at Caol Youth Centre, which is now being fitted out with a teaching room, auditorium and a laboratory. 

Organisations behind the project are developing Newton modules to match STEM sectors in the Highlands and Islands. These will complement the school curriculum and allow families and communities to use the Newton Rooms to enhance and grow STEM activities within the Lochaber area.

Scotland’s first two Newton Rooms, in Thurso and Fort William, will officially open in the spring.

Andrew Johnston, HIE’s director for the Science Skills Academy, said:

“It’s great to see work start on Lochaber’s Newton Room. The centre will aim to inspire young people across the whole of Lochaber who are interested in STEM subjects.

“We are working with partners in the field to provide a coherent STEM learning experience throughout a young person’s education. This in turn will provide opportunities for young people to pursue careers in some of the emerging and future technological developments.

“We very much look forward to opening the centre.”

Local Cllr Allan Henderson, Chair of Highland Council’s Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee said:

“The Lochaber Newton Room is a prime example of how the City-Region Deal is benefitting the wider Highlands at a local level. Young people studying STEM subjects in Lochaber will find their learning experiences and opportunities improved greatly when the Newton Room opens.”

Infrastructure Secretary Michael Matheson said:

“It’s fantastic to see the progress being made in creating a network of Newton Rooms across the Highlands by the Science Skills Academy - a project supported by the Scottish Government through a £3m investment as part of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal.

“We want Scotland’s young people to be inspired on an ongoing basis to develop their STEM capabilities throughout their educational experience and learn how this can be translated into future skills and career opportunities. I am pleased that work has started on Lochaber’s Newton Room and that it will benefit not only young people but also their families and communities across the region to develop an interest in STEM subjects.”


Contact Information

HIE Communications
Senior Communications Manager
01463 383043

Notes to editors

Picture caption: Newton Rooms will inspire more young people into STEM subjects, credit: Alison White/HIE

Contact: Calum Macfarlane, HIE Communications, 01463 383043, calum.macfarlane@hient.co.uk 

The Science Skills Academy is a partnership project led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), with £3m from the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal and support from The Highland Council, the University of the Highlands and Islands, Skills Development Scotland, and others. Its role is to inspire more young people to study science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), and benefit from the thousands of new job opportunities anticipated in the region in the coming years.


Social media handle for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram: @SSASTEM

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is an economic and community development agency implementing Scotland's Economic Strategy across a region which covers more than half the country. With around 300 staff, HIE supports hundreds of client businesses and social enterprises; strengthens communities, particularly in fragile areas; develops growth sectors, and invests in infrastructure to create a more competitive and low carbon region.
You can visit our website at http://www.hie.co.uk 
Or follow us on social media: Twitter : Facebook : Linkedin : Youtube  

The Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal is a joint initiative supported by up to £315m investment from the UK (£53m) and Scottish (£135m) governments, The Highland Council, HIE and the University of the Highland and Islands, aimed at stimulating sustainable regional economic growth.

About Highlands and Islands Enterprise

We’re Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Government’s economic and community development agency for a region covering more than half of Scotland, including more than 90 inhabited islands. We work with communities, enterprises, and stakeholders to unlock our region’s potential for growth and progress, while driving fair work and net zero practices.

Our purpose is to build and sustain a greener, fairer and more resilient region that benefits everyone. We offer support and investment to a wide range of projects that deliver on our priorities, which include a growing workforce, increased productivity, innovation and wages, and a just transition to net zero.

You can visit our website at http://www.hie.co.uk 
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