Scottish Enterprise has unveiled its new “future focus” to help unlock thousands of new jobs and billions of pounds of global growth opportunities.
The national economic development agency said it must “change its priorities, approach and structure to meet Scotland’s economic needs now and help shape our future economy.”
To deliver this, Scottish Enterprise said it is “changing the way it works with Scottish businesses and entrepreneurs, helping them to face into persistent challenges and grow their companies through the introduction of a mission-based approach.”
It said this change will require a sustained effort over time on “those opportunities that most effectively drive up levels of business innovation, capital investment and international activity for the greatest economic impact.”
The agency announced three new missions: developing an energy transition, scaling innovation and entrepreneurship, and increasing productivity through capital investment in facilities and equipment.
It said the scaling innovation mission alone is expected to help businesses create over 60,000 jobs and enable companies in these industries to generate almost £14 billion additional annual turnover by 2030.
“Businesses and entrepreneurs will experience intensive levels of Scottish Enterprise support with the ambition of delivering a step-change in Scotland’s economic performance,” said the agency.
“Scottish Enterprise has previously achieved this when, 20 years ago, it identified low levels of investment in early-stage companies and business R&D spend as barriers to growth.
“The agency re-focused its resources to support companies to tackle these challenges, resulting in significant improvements in performance in the years since – for example the Risk Capital Market in Scotland has grown from £82m in 2005 to £953m in 2022.
“With low levels of innovation and productivity recognised as barriers to business competitiveness, the time is right to again re-focus Scottish Enterprise’s resources across three new missions.
“Evidence shows there is significant potential to transform Scotland’s economy with these missions, and Scottish Enterprise’s core skills and expertise in innovation, investment and internationalisation can support a significant improvement in economic performance.
“The three missions are: developing an energy transition, scaling innovation and entrepreneurship, and increasing productivity through capital investment in facilities and equipment.”
The national economic development agency’s new plan, Our Focus on Economic Transformation, was officially launched by First Minister Humza Yousaf during a visit to offshore intelligent energy management and energy storage technology company, Verlume, in Aberdeen.
Yousaf said: “Scottish Enterprise has an important role to play in driving the energy transition and advancing our vision of a fair, green and growing economy.
“This strategy builds on a strong track record of achievement and sets out how it will do this in alignment with the Scottish Government’s priorities: to support economic growth by creating high-value jobs, enabling innovation, boosting productivity and attracting investment.
“I welcome the specific emphasis Our Focus has on continuing to build close relationships with businesses and stakeholders to support that economic transformation.”
As part of these missions, Scottish Enterprise will target high growth opportunity areas of energy transition — including offshore wind and hydrogen production — as well as space, photonics and quantum technology, industrial biotechnology, life sciences and fintech.
“This approach will also mean increased agility and pace of delivery on major opportunities across the agency’s activities, as well as closer alignment and collaboration with partners,” said Scottish Enterprise.
“To support this, it also requires a change in the way the organisation is structured, how the missions are led and how they are embedded into the work of everyone at Scottish Enterprise.
“As a result, Scottish Enterprise expects to help businesses create, safeguard and transition thousands of jobs by 2030.
“For example, the scaling innovation mission alone is expected to help businesses create over 60,000 jobs and enable companies in these industries to generate almost £14 billion additional annual turnover by 2030.”
Scottish Enterprise CEO Adrian Gillespie commented: “Scotland has a phenomenal opportunity to harness its unique capabilities to transform the economy and now is the time to sharpen our focus to help drive this.
“Scotland has an excellent track record, for example in Foreign Direct Investment, but there is room for improvement in other areas.
“We need a future economy that drives up levels of investment and innovation that positively impacts economic performance and generates wealth for everyone in Scotland. We are changing the way we are organised, how we work and what we do, to help secure that.
“Our Focus is our blueprint to enable our businesses to deliver high value jobs, boost their levels of innovation and productivity, and create wealth for Scotland’s economy.
“It signals the start of a different approach for Scottish Enterprise, making sure we do everything we can, alongside our partners, to support ambitious businesses and entrepreneurs and deliver a successful, growing economy for all of Scotland. To do this, we will focus on those opportunities that can deliver transformational growth.”
The agency said scaling innovation mission “will support those industries where Scotland has global strengths, and fully utilise our world class innovation capability and infrastructure to convert and scale innovation into growth.”
It said growing these industries will help boost Scotland’s productivity and will create good quality, higher paid jobs across the country.
“The ambitious productivity mission will seek to drive up the levels of capital investment into the economy that will facilitate an increase in business productivity, leading to higher value jobs while improving standards of living and reducing poverty,” said the agency.
“Increasing productivity can boost output and earnings, for example if Scottish productivity matched the OECD top quartile today the Scottish economy would be £35 billion better off, with annual average wages between £2000 and £5500 higher.
“Scottish Enterprise already has a strong track record as a partner in developing transformative projects across the country, from Aberdeen Harbour – now the largest port in Scotland and critical to the energy sector transition, to the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland in Renfrewshire which is driving the future of manufacturing through innovation, to the Bioquarter at Little France in Edinburgh – a world-leading health innovation district.”