Community and cultural development

Field Studies Centre strengthens base on Cumbrae

One of the biggest employers on the island of Cumbrae has strengthened its capacity for growth.

The Field Studies Council (FSC) has secured a £10,250 grant from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The money will cover half the cost of establishing a leased Ethernet cable to provide high speed, high performance business connectivity for FSC’s Millport facility.

Mainstream next generation broadband services started going live in Millport in December 2015, as a result of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project, led in the region by HIE.

Cumbrae is one of Scotland’s best connected islands and around 1,400 homes and businesses are able to order fibre broadband services.

While the FSC Millport centre is too far from the fibre cabinets located in the main community to benefit from these services, the roll-out of the core network to the island has made dedicated Ethernet services possible.

A Digital Health Check, carried out with HIE support, identified a leased line as the most suitable option for the centre, even though this would incur construction costs.

Claire McMurchy, head of strengthening communities for HIE in Argyll and the Islands, said:

“FSC Millport is integral to prosperity and resilience on Cumbrae. The centre complements other activity on the island and is a key employer.

“This project is crucial in enabling FSC to strengthen its presence here as a major employer and to plan future growth. We are very pleased to be able to provide support with the capital cost of putting in the infrastructure.”

FSC took over operation of the centre in 2014 from the University of London. HIE and North Ayrshire Council invested significantly in its refurbishment and expansion to meet the needs and expectations of FSC.

With 20 employees, FSC Millport is one of the largest employers on Cumbrae, and one of the island’s very few year-round and non-tourism related enterprises.

FSC Chief Executive, Rob Lucas, said: “Our business at Millport involves working with groups from across the UK and Europe. Reliable high speed broadband is essential for our customers as they access resources and information from across the world whilst they are on courses as well as sharing data and information gathered locally. The financial support from HIE has been critical in ensuring that we can offer the service customers expect, now and into the future.

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