A top-ranking delegation of German politicians, industrialists and SMEs has embarked on a ‘High-tech in the Highlands’ tour looking to tap into Scottish know-how in renewable energy as Berlin urgently reassesses its reliance on Russian gas imports.
The 20-strong group from business organisation, Mittelstands und Wirtschaftsunion (MIT), based in the German economic powerhouse of North Rhine Westphalia (NRW) is closely affiliated to the Christian Democratic Union party with representatives from the building, chemical industries, legal and health sectors among others.
Huge price fluctuations in world energy markets caused by raging war in Ukraine, coupled with reports Berlin is to wean itself off Russian gas imports, makes the MIT visit even more pertinent as Germany looks to Scottish expertise to provide domestic power security.
Visit Scotland’s business events team has partnered with MIT for the four-day trip (26-29 May), which will take in the MeyGen tidal energy project in the Pentland Firth as well as Space Hub Sutherland (SHS) and a talk by the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) on the influence of academia in a global capacity.
But it is the soaring cost of energy which is concentrating the German visitors’ minds the most as they look to adopt some of the north’s best practices in a bid to become less reliant on external sources.
“We can learn from our Scottish friends”
“The security situation makes it absolutely crucial that democratic States have to be flexible with other democratic States,” Bundestag (German Parliament) member, Georg Kippels told the Press and Journal at the Kingsmill Hotel in Inverness where the group heard an address from UHI.
“We come from North Rhine Westphalia which is the biggest industrial region in Germany and we are in the process of changing our energy supplies. These processes need to be very fast – in Germany they are too slow.
“We can really learn a few things from our Scottish friends. Germany is high-tech, but you (Scotland) have a lot of existing knowledge concerning wave energy, hydropower, hydrogen and offshore wind.”
During the trip the delegation will also meet leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross and Inverness MSP, Drew Hendry to discuss enhanced German-Scottish cooperation.
Organising the event from Germany was ‘Global Scot,’ or overseas-based business ambassador, Stefan Simmnacher, who bangs the drum for inward investment and helping Scottish entrepreneurs in foreign markets.
“The title of this trip is ‘Hi-tech in the Highlands,’ added Simmnacher. “We are visiting Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) who will show us ScotWind projects and also the hydrogen project in Cromarty Firth.
Mr Simmnacher completed a master’s degree at London’s Guildhall University where his studies piqued an interest in Scotland, which intensified about 10 years ago when he contacted, Scottish Development International at its headquarters in Düsseldorf.
“Incredibly heartening” to see business events return to Scotland
“It’s incredibly heartening to see the continued growth in the number of international business events returning to Scotland,” said VisitScotland senior UK & Europe Corporate & Incentive market manager, Emma Richards.
“Business events present a platform to bring great minds together and collaborate and are critical to ensuring the wider global economic recovery.
“Stefan as a Global Scot is an excellent ambassador for the country and we are delighted to have helped him bring this influential group to Scotland.”