Combined agency effort to deliver an economically vibrant Scotland


Scotland’s enterprise agencies have launched ambitious plans to help build a more economically vibrant country.

Collectively, and as part of the broader skills and enterprise community, Scottish Enterprise (SE) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) have set out how they will invest to support sustainable and inclusive growth in every part of Scotland.

With people and place at the heart of Scotland’s economic future, the agencies are planning to enhance collaboration through regional partnerships to support the growth of vibrant economic communities. At the same time, they will maximise Scotland’s growing international reputation to increase export success and attract more talent and investment.

The strategic plans were devised in collaboration with the Scottish Government and the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board, to help deliver a shared vision of a more sustainable and inclusive economy.  

HIE’s three-year strategy sets out how the agency will help improve productivity, equality, wellbeing and sustainability, building an inclusive rural economy through a place-based approach across all parts of the Highlands and Islands. Included is a commitment to grow the working age population by attracting more young people, as well as increasing incomes and embracing the Fair Work First approach.

Scottish Enterprise’s new strategy – ‘Building Scotland’s Future Today’ comes after a year-long review and transformation of the agency, led by CEO Steve Dunlop, who took the helm in 2018, and marks a change in direction for the agency with a powerful statement of intent for the future of Scotland’s economy, people and places. 

Over the next year, the agencies will invest more than £409 million delivering a range of projects and initiatives including:  

  • New globally competitive assets eg. Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District and uses for existing assets e.g. Michelin site
  • Regional development partnerships and prospectuses that deliver better economic outcomes for all of Scotland’s communities eg. area growth deals such as the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal and Islands Growth Deal.
  • Building on ‘Scotland is Now’ campaign and enhancing and promoting the appeal of Scotland as a place to live, work, study, invest and attracting fresh talent
  • Increased value of Scottish exports and number of Scottish exporters
  • New forms of investment to and from Scotland with a focus on capital and innovation
  • A national centre of excellence for grant management and a partnership with Scottish National Investment Bank that unites the economic development community around core enterprise missions and supports ambitious companies to access the finance they need to grow.
  • Building on the progress made in infrastructure, transport and connectivity across the Highlands and Islands
  • Progressing strategic national developments including Inverness Campus, the European Marine Science Park in Argyll and the Orkney Research and Innovation Campus
  • Support business growth and community development across all areas, particularly islands and remote rural areas, with emphasis on inclusion, sustainability and tackling climate emergency working through account management of hundreds of businesses, social enterprises, and communities to support and accelerate sustainable growth.
  • Realising the potential for the Highlands and Islands from exciting new opportunities in industries such as space and the marine economy
  • Helping to deliver the collaborative masterplan for Fort William 2040
  • Developing wave energy technology to the point of commercialisation through Wave Energy Scotland

Together the agencies expect to deliver a range of measures in 2019-20 including:

  • Up to 11,000 new and safeguarded jobs
  • £250-300m spending on research and development 
  • £150-218m capital expenditure by businesses and sectors
  • £160-255m in growth funding raised by businesses
  • £1.25-1.5bn in export sales for Scottish companies. 
  • £2.5-£3m turnover increase in the social economy
  • £90-110m increase in business turnover
  • £16 – £20m funding raised by supported enterprises/community organisations

There is a strong emphasis on partnership working, between agencies, with local and national government, with the commercial and third sectors, and between academia and industry.

Professor Lorne Crerar, chair of HIE, said: “With around 9% of the country’s population across more than half its land mass, the Highlands and Islands is predominantly rural, with distinctive challenges and opportunities.

“Collaboration is of course vital, and we are committed to work with our partners across the country, in the public sector, with industries and with communities to benefit both the Highlands and Islands and Scotland.

“At the same time, it’s vital that HIE has a strategy in place that seeks to meet the specific needs and aspirations of the Highlands and Islands.

 “Notable successes in sectors such as food and drink, tourism, energy and life sciences have strengthened the economy of the Highlands and Islands and its impact on Scotland’s success. The region’s economy is strong and adaptable, with exciting prospects in industries such as space and advanced engineering. But it also faces serious challenges, not least the uncertainty associated with leaving the European Union.

“We need to make sure we build on the progress made over the years in things like infrastructure, transport and connectivity. We also need to support business growth and community development across all parts of the region, particularly islands and remote rural areas that contribute so much to Scotland’s success.

“In meeting the needs of growing businesses, inward investors and rural communities, we need to continue to enhance and promote the region’s appeal as a place to live, work and study. This is why attracting new talent features strongly in our strategy.

Scottish Enterprise CEO Steve Dunlop said: “The definition of economic success is changing and as Scotland’s enterprise agencies we need to be agile and rise to every new challenge in these uncertain times. This new strategic framework sets out our bold ambitions for Scotland and how Scottish Enterprise will help achieve them – but more than that – it sets out the values that inspire us and the passions that drive us. 

“Although small in stature, Scotland has always packed an impressive punch when it comes to economic success. We’ll capitalise on this already-strong reputation to build a brighter future today, working hand-in-hand with our partners to create more, quality jobs. We want all of Scotland’s children to have the future they deserve. A future where every community, family and individual benefits from economic success.” 

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “The Scottish Government has given HIE a unique remit to integrate economic and community development as well as the principles of Fair Work, to unlock the massive economic potential of the Highlands and Islands. I’m sure many people in the area will join me in welcoming this ambitious new strategy, which clearly sets out how HIE will act as a major influence in attracting investment, tackling issues of remoteness and inequality, and encouraging more people to choose the Highlands and Islands as their choice of place to live or work.   

“I’m confident that through collaborative working and with the focus on sustainable, inclusive growth, we can continue to improve conditions in this important and distinct part of Scotland. The Scottish Government declared a climate emergency last month, which will underpin every aspect of public spending in years to come – providing a welcome focus on sustainability.”

Economy Secretary Derek Mackay said: “Scottish Enterprise plays a key role in delivering the Scottish Government’s ambition of creating an even more successful country. This new strategic framework is very welcome, particularly in its aim to increase sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

“If we are going to continue to create opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, it is vital that the Scottish Government and our agencies work together in pursuit of our common goals. It is fantastic to see that this framework aligns with the Strategic Board for Enterprise and Skills’ Strategic Plan – as well as the plans of other agencies – and that the ambitions that Scottish Enterprise want to achieve through their current transformational change programme are clearly reflected. I’m confident that through continued collaborative working, we can achieve the best outcome for Scotland and its economy.”

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