Work is expected to begin next month on a £1.5m-plus revamp of Borders College’s Hawick campus.
A £356,000 contract has been awarded to Stirling firm Ogilvie Construction to redevelop the Buccleuch Road campus to accommodate what is described as an innovation hub.
The project will see the campus, opened in 2007, reconfigured to host the hub, being created as part a £6.7m investment package by the south of Scotland economic partnership, a forerunner to a regional enterprise agency being launched next year.
Besides hosting the college’s business development unit, the hub will provide a base for several technological initiatives intended to benefit both local and national businesses.
That includes the expansion of an existing partnership with Worcester Bosch to train students in renewable technologies to provide heat and power.
On top of that, there will be what is called an eco room to host training in low-carbon and sustainable construction technologies. It will be linked to flexible workshop areas for the study and testing of renewable technologies such as air tightness insulation and thermal imaging.
The hub will give local and national companies the opportunity to discover more about, and be trained in, technologies that are transforming the construction industry, including 3D printing, augmented reality, business information modelling software, analytical software and the use of drones.
Davie Lowe, assistant principal at the college, said: “The partnership’s investment is a real shot in the arm for the construction industry in the Borders.
“This project will allow local and national businesses to find out about, and be trained in the latest technologies and best practice currently being adopted within the construction industry and, at the same time, see what the future will hold in terms of construction and sustainability.”
Hazel Robertson, vice-principal for finance and corporate services, added: “This redevelopment really is a continuation of the fantastic work that has being going on in the Hawick campus for many years.
“Our business development team has operated successfully, providing training solutions to local and national businesses, as well as managing our community provision, for some time now, with an annual turnover of £1.3m.
“This investment shows our long-term commitment to the Hawick campus and the exciting and flexible ways in which businesses need to learn to operate if they are to compete successfully in the 21st century.”
Ogilvie Construction is expected to complete work on the hub in July this year.
The project includes extending the upper floor of the building and creating flexible spaces for training and information courses.
The partnership is handing out £7.68m altogether, and £6.7m of that will be split between Borders College and Dumfries and Galloway College to create a physical and digital hub network to provide better access to training in health and social care, renewable energy, engineering and construction.
The Hawick campus will be further revamped to accommodate a science, technology, engineering and mathematics hub.
The college has been awarded £2.2m to create a regional learning and skills network to address skills gaps identified in the region in sectors such as energy, engineering, construction and care.
About £1.5m of that will be spent on the science, technology, engineering and mathematics hub, including the eco room.
Digital hubs at the college and what are described as spokes in schools will acount for a further £560,00 and a care academy for £100,000.
The partnership is spending £610,000 on a textile skills training centre at nearby Hawick High School too, also in Buccleuch Road.