Heriot-Watt University appoints Aquatera for ICIT transition management role

November 19th 2012

Orkney based International Centre for Island Technology (ICIT) is Heriot-Watt’s campus in the North with an ambition to be a world class facility specialising in marine studies. Professor Steve Chapman (Principal & Vice Chancellor) of Heriot-Watt University has taken an innovative approach to appointing a new Director of ICIT. He has opted to employ a team of people from Stromness based Aquatera to lead the transition at a local and international level.Professor Chapman said,

‘This is an exciting opportunity to springboard ICIT to new levels of achievement and to more strongly link relevant industry and academic interests. Gareth Davies has proven excellent leadership of a distinctly local but also a global company, in Aquatera.  Similarly we want ICIT to grow and develop at a local level but to project an international relevance and reputation.  This is vital for the future and sustainability of ICIT in Orkney. I am convinced that Gareth and his transition team from Aquatera is the ideal vehicle to bring our ambitions to fruition.’

ICIT’s present Director Prof Jon Side will still be very much part of the ICIT team going forward.  He will step down from his overall leadership and administrative roles to focus on his research interests.  The fantastic opportunities that could be available from such a refocus have recently been highlighted through the success of a £1M research application called ECOWATT – a programme that Jon has led from the outset.  ICIT’s research credentials have also been strengthened recently by the appointment of Dr David Wolff, who previously worked at ERI in Thurso.  He joins a team of 10 other researchers already at ICIT who are focussed on studies into marine renewables, environmental issues, sustainable communities, marine spatial management and fisheries management.

Dr Gareth Davies (MD of Aquatera) has a long history with ICIT. He came to Orkney in 1990 to establish ICIT along with Jon Side.  Over the intervening years he has worked with ICIT on many joint projects and continues to employa number of ICIT graduates in Aquatera. Although the two organisations have close ties, the new contract is not a prelude to a merger or restructuring of the two organisations.  It is planned that ICIT and Aquatera will continue to develop in their own distinctive ways, but the organisations will look to see how and where mutual interests can also be served with activities such as marketing and administration services.  

Gareth stated how pleased he is to be able to take on this new challenge and said:

‘Now is the perfect time for this kind of partnership. Aquatera has long since built a reputation for findinginnovativesolutions and we are keen to take on new challenges. We feel strongly that a thriving academic institute working alongsidebusinesses in the renewables sector can create an invigorated,dynamic force.Thismove is particularlytimely as plans fordeveloping the campus of innovation & excellence in Stromness are becoming more established. The whole offer that Orkneycan make on the international stage is unprecedented and ICIT along with partners such as Aquatera and others have a pivotal role in this going forward.’

Under the contract awarded by Heriot-Watt University Aquatera will provide a leadership role to take ICIT through a transition process over the next 3 years to ensure delivery of Heriot-Watt ambition. The approach is in 2 phases:

During  phase 1 between now and Christmas, Aquatera will undertake a feasibility study/ review of ICIT resulting in recommendations to be implemented in phase 2. During Phase 2 from January 2013 to December 2015, the ICIT Transition Team will implement priority changes, progress the development of the renewables campus, grow ICIT to receive significantly more students and prepare and implement a handover to a new management team to ensure the facility is fit for purpose as it moves into the future.

Aquatera’s team approach provides a team of people with relevant skills to increase capacity and ensure breadth of service allowing each member to play to their strengths.

The core ICIT Transition Team is:

  • Gareth Davies (Managing Director)
  • Gaynor Jones (Director of Business and Sustainable Development)
  • Inga Burton and Elaine Buck (University Business Managers)