What is a BID?
BIDs come in to existence after commercial stakeholders agree to invest collectively to improve their operational environment, but before this, proposals are developed with public sector support. Scottish Government “seedcorn” development funding is secured (via BIDs Scotland) and, in the case of Midlothian Science Zone BID, matched by financial support from Midlothian Council.
Organisations with a stake in the proposed BID area are then asked to outline the improvements they feel would best benefit the area. Business proposals are drawn up, and those proposals are put to ballot.
Following a successful ballot, the BID devotes focus to delivering those projects efficiently throughout the defined BID area for a specified period of time, usually five years. Their level of investment in the project is related to their stake in the area, to ensure fairness in contribution.
Testament to the effectiveness of the Scottish BID model is the fact that, once they come to the end of their first operational term, success rate at renewal ballot is 100%. No Scottish BID has ever failed at renewal ballot, demonstrating real, tangible economic growth that stakeholders don’t want to lose.
Why a BID for Midlothian Science Zone?
Already globally renowned as a pioneering hub of scientific innovation, Midlothian Science Zone is heading for yet another world first.
Having studied the widespread success and subsequent evolution of the Scottish Business Improvement District (BID) model since its 2006 ratification in Scotland, the Zone is set to become the world’s first “science park” BID.
Midlothian Science Zone has many more facets than a science park alone, however. It incorporates multiple science parks, research institutes and universities, boasting a vast spectrum of expertise across many disciplines: microelectronics- and bio-manufacturing, renewable energy, animal- and life-sciences and many more.
BIDs have bolstered economic growth in Scotland for over 10 years, learning, expanding and evolving. Since the five Scottish “pathfinder” BIDs were established in 2006-7, a further 31 BIDs now operate across the country, most of which are primarily aimed at promoting town and city centre areas.
Building on this success, new types of BID have begun to emerge. East Lothian Food & Drink BID focuses on promotes the services of, and collaboration between, food and drink producers, wholesalers and retailers across the whole region. Other BIDs focus on an area’s evening and night-time economy, while several “canal BIDs”, aimed at boosting trade along the Central Belt’s canal paths, are in development.
In this spirit of forward-thinking collaboration, the Midlothian Science Zone BID gathers stakeholders together to agree upon a five-year investment plan, aimed squarely at raising the profile of the Zone, while making physical improvements and facilitating the cross-pollination of ideas and shared facilities across the BID area.
Who would be involved with the BID?
All organisations with sufficient stake in the area, based on the rateable value of the properties they own or occupy, will receive ballot papers in early 2018. Following a successful ballot, the BID will be established almost immediately and will work to deliver the agreed projects over the agreed timescale.
Eligible stakeholders provide the BID’s core budget collectively, with contributions calculated from each organisation’s stake in the area. A fundamental principle of Midlothian Science Zone is for landlords to help small start-up businesses flourish in a welcoming and supportive environment. These operations would not contribute to the BID, unless voluntary contributions were made. All stakeholders above the “entrance threshold” would pay an equitable share towards the core budget. The BID would then work to leverage additional funding from external sources.
Who would control the BID?
Throughout a BID’s development phase, it is administered by stakeholders, whose respective organisations would ultimately pay BID levy, and who comprise the BID Steering Group. In Midlothian Science Zone, the Steering Group enjoys broad representation from University of Edinburgh and The Roslin Institute, Moredun Foundation and Pentlands Science Park, Edinburgh Technopole, Scotland’s Rural College, and representatives of smaller, independent businesses in the area.
Elected Members may also sit on the Steering Group, limited in number by proportion of stakeholders to Elected Members. A BID is always led by the stakeholders it exists to represent. While a strong partnership with the Local Authority is crucial, the stakeholders are always in the driving seat.
Administrative support is provided by Midlothian Council’s Economic Development staff, as well as a dedicated Project Coordinator.
What would the BID actually do?
Consultation with stakeholders is ongoing, meaning that, although the project list is taking shape, feedback from other stakeholders, large and small, is still very much welcome.
Fairly uniquely for a BID, there is already a solid framework of proposals to enhance both the profile of Midlothian Science Zone and the physical area itself, through reports such as the Bush Framework Masterplan and accompanying transport strategies and vision plans.
Each area within the Midlothian Science Zone cluster has its own internal development masterplan, however the purpose of the BID is to deliver projects, which strengthen connections between them and raise the profile of the area as a whole. Furthermore, where an agreed financial mechanism is already in place to deliver a particular project (e.g. improvements to arterial road infrastructure), the BID would not duplicate this.
Just by being there, the BID provides significant administrative support towards progressing the aims of the Bush Framework Masterplan and other strategies, opens new avenues for external funding, maintains economic growth statistics, and ensures fairness in its activity across all stakeholders in the area.
Specific projects include:
- Promote Midlothian Science Zone consistently, by maintaining the website and business directory, producing a regular newsletter, and by facilitating communication between businesses in the Zone.
- Improve the physical environment of Midlothian Science Zone, by administering existing projects to improve way-finding signage and expanding with new projects. Uniformity is key in such public realm development, but with respect to the brands of existing stakeholders.
- Encourage sustainable travel and provide services to employees and students to this end.
- Maintain additional statistics/monitoring and evaluation for use in lobbying and applications for external funding.
- Foster links between commercial and educational aspects of Midlothian Science Zone, as well as local educational institutions.
BIDs are also a powerful means of attracting external funding, with Scotland’s finest example lying a few miles down the road in Penicuik town centre. “Penicuik First”, which leveraged over eight times its annual budget before its first birthday, continues to secure significant external funding to host events and promote the area, despite being the country’s smallest BID.
Scottish BIDs, since their inception, are directly responsible for £41.3m member business investment, plus an additional £19.6m leveraged investment, which is then reinvested directly in respective BID areas.
How do I get in touch with the BID Steering Group?
The first point of contact is the Project Coordinator, Eddie Linton-Smith, who can be contacted by email. He will endeavour to respond to you within two working days. A meetings can also be arranged, if this is preferred.