Media Release: Glasgow School of Art to open in Forres

ONE of Europe’s most renowned international art schools is to launch a new satellite centre in the North of Scotland, adding to the growing number of higher education institutions working in the region.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), together with ERDF funding, will assist Glasgow School of Art (GSA) to establish The Centre for Design Innovation at the  Enterprise Park, Forres with a support package up to  £1.27m over the next three years.

GSA is one of Britain’s foremost institutions for creative research, education and practice. It is a specialist and highly-focused international community of artists, designers and architects, undertaking research at the highest levels.

Alex Paterson, chief executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said HIE was delighted to be helping the school set up in the North of Scotland.

“The work that GSA plans to do from its new base in Moray will focus on tackling challenges faced by businesses and communities, enabling them to grasp opportunities and generate economic growth.  This includes exploring ways in which current and future services might be provided into local communities, for example healthcare, education and banking.”

Professor Irene McAra-Mcwilliam, head of the School of Design at The Glasgow School of Art, and the Director of the new Centre, said: “We have worked together to find ways in which design thinking can be applied to benefit businesses and communities in the Highlands and Islands area, while creating new knowledge for the Art School and real world ‘live’ projects for our students.

“This Centre will be an example of 21st century innovation. We will also carry out research with international partners and create examples of best practice in the Highlands and Islands area.”

The Centre for Design Innovation will work with local, national and international partners around three key themes.

Leading researchers and students will look at assisting small enterprises across the region to collaborate, helping them to exploit new opportunities and markets together. This will also be piloted across sectors, such as food and drink and tourism.

Finally, the Centre will explore how services can be delivered more effectively into rural communities.

In addition to employing around 12 researchers based in Forres, the Centre will offer student placements and internships with Highlands and Islands businesses, aiming to create new research and commercialisation opportunities.

In its first three years, the Centre aims to undertake around six applied research projects with health and wellbeing being a priority research area. It will also support 100 businesses to engage in design led innovation with several projects already at the planning stage.

GSA hosted workshops at the Telehealthcare Summit and P4 Digital healthcare Conference, both held this year in Inverness. Discussions are underway regarding collaborative projects with partners in the area particularly around the future provision of health services in the region.


Note to editor:

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) delivers the Scottish Government’s economic strategy by supporting the sustainable growth of ambitious businesses and communities across the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. You can visit our website at and follow us on Facebook at

HIE’s activities contribute to a comprehensive range of measures introduced across the public sector as part of the Scottish Government’s Economic Recovery Plan. For more information visit:

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Contact: Kim Thain
Phone: 01463 244238