MORIBUND Aberdeen Offshore Technology Park is being rebranded and overhauled in a bid to attract fresh investment and create hundreds of new jobs.
Energy can reveal that the AOTP will be renamed Aberdeen Science and Energy Park, embracing wider science R&D and the broader energy opportunities for the Granite City in the future.
The overhaul is one half of a wider plan by Scottish Enterprise Grampian to breathe newlife into this and Aberdeen Science & Technology Park at Balgownie. Together, they host more than 90 companies and account for about 1,400 high-value jobs.
The stated objective is to "double jobs on the parks in 10 years" and the umbrella brand will be Aberdeen Science and Technology Parks, incorporating Aberdeen Science and Energy Park.
Tony Aldous, SEG director of Aberdeen Science and Technology Parks, told Energy: "Balgownie is almost full so we have to shift focus to what will become the Science and Energy Park. We're putting a lot of thought into making it an attractive place to do business.
"The importance of the park has been recognised by Scottish Enterprise on a national basis through its commitment to funding further development on the park through the national five-year investment strategy. This is great news for Aberdeen."
But it has taken four years of lobbying, including by Energy, to persuade Scottish Enterprise Grampian just to get a name change as a precursor to a shake-up of the park, a sizeable chunk of which still lies empty following its launch in the mid-1990s.
It was even suggested that SEG/Scottish Enterprise Energy Group use the successful All-Energy Opportunities Conference series- the first seed of which was sown at the Press and Journal in 1999 - as the platform to make a statement of intent to the now fast-growing renewable energies sector. But the opportunity was not taken up.
A source admitted to Energy that AOTP had become too restrictive and the new name is aimed at sending out the same message as Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group and Aberdeen City Council regarding the wider energy role that Europe's oil/energy capital must adopt.
The new name will also reflect efforts being made by companies previously wholly committed to oil & gas to capture wider energy-market opportunities, especially on and offshore renewables.
SEG's overhaul includes drawing up a newmaster plan for the park and accessing further development land nearby. The belief is that it will prove attractive to technology companies looking to establish a substantial presence as there is now a shortage of space at Balgownie.
AOTP was a bold venture that fell victim to the vagaries of the oil price. Just as reasonable momentum was gathering following its launch in 1995, fuelled by the NorthSea mini-boom at that time and growing confidence in Aberdeen as a key satellite to Houston, everything ground more or less to a halt during the oil-price slump of late-1997 through 1999,sincewhen deep uncertainty has prevailed and recovery has been stymied.
Adding to the woes was the decision of Total to pull out of Silverburn House, which dominates entry to the park and has lain empty since, together with the Elf research facility located to its rear and cheek by jowl with the AOTP's Innovation Centre, some tenants of which have had little or nothing to do with the objective of the building at the time it was erected.
Source: The Press & Journal