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A transformational education model: e-sgoil review published

The ‘One Year Review’ of e-sgoil, written by our Education Specialist Bruce Robertson and Director Martin Finnigan, has been published by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, (Western Isles Council).  Our review documents the remarkable success of this initiative which takes Smart Cities concepts and applies them in a rural Smart Islands context.

Careful data gathering and analysis, reliable communications infrastructure and technology-literate teaching staff have opened up new curriculum and pedagogical opportunities throughout the islands.

The potential of this approach to extend from schools into vocational and higher education has been demonstrated, and the impact on Cosnadh (employment), Cánan (language), Cultar (culture) and Coimhearsnachd (community) is clear.

The report assesses progress against the funding objectives, describes the transformational business model, and identifies the current and potential economic impacts.

The e-sgoil model is inexpensive, efficient and scalable.  It is applicable in remote, rural and dispersed communities regardless of location. The report is can be downloaded here.

Colombia Investment Roadshow

Colombia Investment Roadshow

This week, on 21 and 22 May 2018, we attended the first Colombia Investment Roadshow in London, a joint event whose organisers included British & Colombian Chamber of Commerce; the British Embassy in Bogotá; the Department of International Trade teams in Colombia and London; The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Andean Desk and the Prosperity Fund Colombia; The Colombian Embassy in London and Procolombia.

The purposes of the event were to present the key infrastructure projects in Colombia, to explain the investment environment and to support joint initiatives to address some of the challenges that are still experienced in the sector and in the country.

A series of speakers explained the economic backdrop and investment outlook in the country, and provided personal perspectives on experiences of developing projects there.  Key projects in rail, rolling stock, Smart Cities, schools, healthcare, waterways, airports and water treatment were described in detail, including explanations of the procurement process and the roles of the main protagonists.

The main points we took from the event were:

  • the prospect of imminent accession to the OECD provides evidence of the rigorous process of reforms, policy and regulatory improvements that have been implemented. Between 2010 and 2017 the economy grew an average of 3.8% a year and it has one of the highest levels of foreign direct investment in the region;
  • the final peace agreement concluded with FARC in December 2016 brought to an end half a century of armed conflict, and saw the start of a 15 year implementation period;
  • improved connectivity and the development of Smart Cities are key to the successful implementation of the peace agreement.  A large transport infrastructure initiative has been launched to tackle infrastructure bottlenecks that are holding back development, especially in rural, conflict-affected areas;
  • in 2017 the Economist Intelligence Unit singled out Colombia as being well-prepared for infrastructure PPPs in the region. Forms of PPP are being used for the Bogotá Metro, renewal/operation of the Transmilenio BRT system, Cauca road network, El Dorado II Airport and to restore navigability of the Magdalena River.  Pilot PPPs are being developed for schools and hospitals in Medellín, Barranquilla and Bogotá.

At Caledonian Economics we look forward to building on existing relationships in Colombia and developing new ones, so that we can play our part in the continuing success of this remarkable country and helping create, as one speaker put it, “a piece of the peace”.

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Uruguay XXI Event

On 18 May 2018 Martin Finnigan joined around 50 delegates at the Why Uruguay? event at Tower Bridge, London, organised by Uruguay XXI (the National Investment and Export Promotion Agency), the Department for International Trade, and the Embajada Británica Montevideo.

Presentations by representatives from Embassy of Uruguay in London, the British Chamber of Commerce in Uruguay and Uruguay XXI described the key strengths of the Uruguayan economy and explained the many incentives that make it an ideal hub for companies wishing to enter and trade throughout Latin America.

The main points we took from the event were:

• it was the first country in the world to provide laptop computers to all primary and secondary school pupils, and to all teachers. Smart Cities, Smart Towns and Smart Education concepts are at the heart of schooling.  Language skills are good, all teachers have access to English tuition and a significant number of Portuguese speakers helps companies trade with Brazil;

• the country has high standards of transparency, strong institutions and is committed to investment in knowledge: facts I can relate to in my own experiences working in Uruguay;

• income per person is the highest in Latin America and Uruguay’s fifteen straight years of GDP growth far outstrip the performance of its massive neighbours, Brazil and Argentina;

• the country has implemented strategies that make it a very attractive location for companies seeking to establish a hub for goods and services in the region. Examples include excellent internet connectivity, free ports and free airports, no restrictions on repatriation of profits, no discrimination between overseas and domestic investors, unrestricted forex market, single taxation system throughout the country, and slick procedures for setting up a company.

For our part, it is good to see that the Education PPP program, which we helped develop, has recently issued invitations to tender for the fourth bundle of schools.

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Asian Development Bank – Learning from Scottish Education PPP models

The Asian Development Bank has published our article on Scottish Education PPP models and how they could be applied in the bank’s sphere of operations. In this blog we:

  • look at reasons why PPP is less widely adopted as a development model for education infrastructure compared to other sectors such as energy, transport and utilities;
  • consider the benefits that wider adoption of PPP could bring;
  • describe innovative structured that have been developed in Scotland; and,
  • suggest how they might be structured and deployed in the region.

The full article can be accessed on Asian Development Bank Blog.

Aberdeenshire

Our second Aberdeenshire Schools DBFM/PPP has reached financial close

Our appointment as Transaction Financial Advisers by Aberdeenshire Council on the procurement of a replacement for Inverurie Academy and Community Campus came to a successful conclusion when financial close was achieved on 19 April 2018.

This is our second such appointment by the Council, having previously supported the procurement of Alford Community Campus which opened its doors to pupils for the first time in October 2015.

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Photograph credit hub North Scotland

Both new schools were procured with our support from hub North Scotland under the hub/DBFM/PPP structure. They will variously serve pupils in early years (#kindergarten), primary and secondary education and include a range of community facilities such as theatre, sports hall, swimming pool, community library and dance studio, with all-weather and grass playing fields.

 

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Angus Council – transaction adviser for two new primary schools

We are very pleased to have supported Angus Council on the procurement of replacements for Muirfield and Ladyloan Primary Schools in the coastal town of Arbroath, which reached financial close on 24 November 2017.  The new schools are being developed under a single Design-Build-Finance-Maintain contract with hub East Central.

Each school will have a capacity of approximately 335 primary pupils and 72 pre-school pupils.

We supported the Council’s in-house team in confirming that financial submissions from the private sector partner are within the various limits set by the Territory Partnering Agreement and we worked closely with the financing partners to achieve a successful financial close to the project. 

This continues our long relationship with Angus Council which including supporting the initial feasibility study, and subsequently acting as transaction advisor, for the Forfar and Carnoustie schools PPP.

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Uruguay – Management of Operational PPPs

On October 9 and 10 2017, Martin Finnigan participated an inter-institutional seminar on Control and Monitoring of PPP Contracts, at the invitation of Ministry of Economics and Finance of the Government of Uruguay and the British Embassy.

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Presenting alongside Dr. Patricia Benavente (Peru) and Inspector of the Contract of UPPL No. 1 Bernardo Vidal (Uruguay), I delivered two sessions that explained the relevance of the Scottish PPP experience to Uruguay.

The event was attended by over 50 professionals with an interest in PPP in Uruguay including central government agencies, service delivery bodies, investors and funders.

I developed a theory of the forces the drive the evolution and development of PPP in an economy, and noted how managing a PPP pipeline demands the ability to adapt to foreseeable changes in the external environment, and cope with unexpected ones.

I also identified lessons we have learned in Scotland over 20 years of PPP, and interpreted these in the Latin American context.  Finally, I presented our report on the management of operational PPPs in the social infrastructure sector.

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Ground breaking work of e-sgoil recognised in our report

How often do we see a project that breaks genuinely new ground? 

Very rarely I would say, but e-sgoil does, as Holyrood Magazine reported while commenting on our recent study.

E-sgoil is not just another distance learning package. It seeks out situations where location is at the root of a mismatch between the demand for – and supply of – education.  Then it asks how technology can be used to address the mismatch.  It takes Smart Cities concepts and applies them in the Smart Islands context.

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Developed in the Western Isles with the vision of “Placing the Periphery at the Centre”, e-sgoil is finding applications across Scotland: helping address shortages of specialist teachers, delivering Gaelic language courses in places where it was not previously feasible, broadening the curriculum in small island schools, and enabling students of all ages to study courses up to postgraduate levels in the workplace or close to home.

 

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Perth & Kinross – New Bertha Park High School Financial Close

The procurement of the new Bertha Park High School by Perth & Kinross Council reached financial close on 27 September 2017 . Built to accommodate pupil generated by the rapid expansion of the city, the new school will be developed under a single compact PPP contract between the Council and  hub East Central Scotland.

As the public sector Financial Transaction Adviser on this PPP we supported the Council’s in-house team and were responsible for assessing financial submissions from the private sector partner. This included confirming that returns, margins and fees are in line with the market and consistent with pre-agreed levels.  We worked closed with technical specialists to calibrate the payment mechanism, and supported commercial negotiations.

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