The joint venture is led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Orkney Islands Council (OIC) to support the growing research and innovation activity and the expansion of companies in Orkney’s marine renewables.
Tracy brings a wealth of experience to the role. She is an executive member of the British Geological Survey (BGS) and co-director of the Lyell Centre in Edinburgh. The centre is a pioneering global research facility for earth and marine science and technology and enables the BGS and Heriot-Watt University to build on their joint expertise.
Tracy has previously held positions as associate director of the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) in Oban and was the former managing director of SAMS Research Services Ltd (SRSL) based at the European Marine Science Park in Oban which provides specialist marine consultancy and survey services.
Tracy obtained an MSc from Strathclyde University and a PhD in geoscience from Edinburgh University and has over 30 years’ experience in environmental geochemistry.
Her working time is divided between the Highlands and Islands where she lives in Oban, and Edinburgh where she works at the Lyell Centre.
Tracy currently serves on the Norwegian New Knowledge on Sea Disposal (NYKOS) advisory board and is a member of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Deep-Sea Mining Working Group. She is also Chair of a working group of the joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP).
Work is underway by the main contractor, Kirkwall based R Clouston Limited to refurbish, update and extend the old Academy and former Stromness Primary School buildings and improve access roads, paths and landscaping.
HIE is investing £4.65 million in the campus project, including £1.48 million of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) money. OIC is investing £2 million, including £0.5 million of Scottish Government Regeneration Funding, in addition to transferring ownership of the Old Academy and former Stromness primary school to the partnership.
The Old Academy is already home to the European Marine Energy Centre, Heriot Watt University’s International Centre for Island Technology, environmental consultants Aquatera and number of other businesses. The project will also attract additional research activities to Orkney, both from the commercial and academic worlds.
Tracy’s role as Chair of ORIC will be to provide leadership to the ORIC Board during the three-year appointment, which will involve a time commitment of up to 20 days per annum.
She said: “I am very excited to take on this role and provide leadership for the research and innovation campus. Orkney was the centre for innovation for the British Isles 5000 years ago and I will work with partners to ensure Orkney once again leads discovery and innovation attracting further research and commercial organisations with an interest in carrying out ventures in an island setting. I am very optimistic about the future employment and business opportunities for Orkney and ORIC will be key in developing these opportunities from both academia and business.”
Graeme Harrison, HIE area manager in Orkney, said: “We are delighted to appoint Tracy and we look forward to working with her to bring this important development to fruition. We are currently working with the contractor and with OIC to develop the centre which will support the growth of existing businesses and the creation of new ones, as well as provide more opportunities to attract and retain young people to live, work and study.”
James Stockan, Leader of Orkney Islands Council, said: “This is an important step for the project and I welcome Tracy’s appointment. Research and innovation are at the heart of our ambitions for Orkney’s future development and prosperity. The campus will create 21st century centre of excellence that will generate new jobs and activity in Stromness, greatly benefiting the town and Orkney as a whole.”