Heart of Midlothian will officially launch a new “innovation centre” this month as the club looks to help local people and businesses develop key skills.
Bosses at Tynecastle Park hope that the facility, which is sponsored by Edinburgh-based investment firm Baillie Gifford, will play an important role in helping to regenerate the local area.
The launch follows on from a series of digital education programmes that have attracted several hundred school children between the ages of eight and 16 over the past six months.
Working in partnership with learning providers, schools and businesses, the programmes use the magnet of football and the position of Hearts in the community to attract and motivate young people to acquire vital skills for the growing digital economy.
The learning is overseen by volunteer mentors, recruited from businesses across the capital, who introduce attendees to basic coding skills through lessons that include designing and coding fitness trackers and programming goal-line technology.
A new careers club is scheduled to launch in the autumn with a focus on developing vocational skills and helping young people navigate their way into further education and employment.
The official launch of the innovation centre on 29 May will also see the opening of a new business support facility. Designed to help “aspiring entrepreneurs” as well as established companies, the programmes on offer will provide advice and encouragement for people looking to set up on their own as well as those struggling to sustain existing businesses.
Hearts’ director of community and partnerships, Ann Park, said: “The innovation centre is a key component in our plans to make Tynecastle Park a hub for social and economic good in the community.
“Thanks to the sponsorship and support of Baillie Gifford and Dell, we are offering young people fantastic opportunities to develop vital skills for the future.
“With input from Brodies LLP, we will also offer early support for new innovators and aspiring entrepreneurs to help them get on the first rung of the ladder of creating their own business. Equally, we will offer advice and guidance for local small businesses to make them more robust and sustainable.”
The launch event will see Hearts chairman and chief executive Ann Budge recount her journey from Pilton-born single mother to becoming Scotland’s Entrepreneur of the Year and one of the most respected figures in the Scottish business community.
She said: “I know from personal experience just how important it is for young people, particularly those in less affluent areas, to be given opportunities to develop and acquire valuable skills. I hope that our innovation centre might help unearth the next generation of successful entrepreneurs as well as a legion of recruits for Scotland’s digital economy.”
The new centre will host a series of introductory business seminars, delivered by legal firm Brodies LLP, covering key areas that can make the difference between success and failure when starting and running businesses.