A year of hope and opportunity – Linda Hanna, interim CEO, Scottish Enterprise
2020 was a year like no other. Now, as we emerge from the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, I believe this is a year of hope and opportunity for Scotland’s economy.
I also recognise times are still incredibly difficult for many even with signs of economic recovery and Scottish Enterprise stands ready to get behind businesses, industry and our partners by delivering practical actions set out in our plan for the year ahead.
This plan is designed to support those who continue to battle the effects of the pandemic and to help accelerate sustainable economic recovery by maximising the very best opportunities for growth.
It’s no exaggeration to say Covid-19 has dramatically impacted on Scotland’s labour market. With employment expected to fall by around 40,000 this year and young people, women and vulnerable groups likely to be most affected, it is critical we focus our efforts on safeguarding and creating as many jobs as possible for today and for the future.
We are sharpening our focus on jobs including an opportunity to reshape the kind of jobs we want in Scotland. That’s why, at Scottish Enterprise, we’re going a step further to pursue jobs that are green, pay at least the real living wage and are spread in an equitable way across Scotland’s communities. Our ambition is to work with businesses here and overseas to help create up to 10,500 planned jobs in the year ahead.
And we do this by investing alongside our public and private sector partners in ambitious projects that deliver and safeguard sustainable jobs.
Collectively, through R&D, capital and equity investment, we hope to see over £1 billion of funding flow through to Scottish businesses to support these ambitions. Funding for projects that firmly look to the future and have growth, development of the community and international competitiveness at their heart.
Speaking from personal experience, it’s projects like MSIP, where we’re working with our public and corporate partners to breathe life back into the former tyre factory in Dundee. It is becoming a hub for sustainable transport companies like the exciting hydrogen technology company, Arcola Energy, which is planning 135 green jobs at the site. Indeed it was great to see Conde Naste Traveller recently identify Dundee as a renaissance city and Dundee Councillor, Mark Flynn, recognise MSIP’s role in the city’s revival.
Jobs for the future are equally as important as those for today. Scottish Enterprise is ambitious for tomorrow’s economy too and we recognise the opportunity to reshape our economy so that post-pandemic Scotland flourishes with industries that are innovative, entrepreneurial and sustainable for generations to come.
That’s why our plan this year underscores a laser-like focus on the areas of digital, net zero, health and advanced manufacturing. These are areas where Scotland boasts true global competitive advantage and is at the cutting edge of innovation introducing new products and services that can take Scottish businesses global.
Our support will not only be directed towards large global companies like LumiraDx which recently announced its 750 job global health, R&D and manufacturing expansion but also where we see the greatest entrepreneurship potential and can support early stage businesses to commercialise exciting new technologies and scale up. Scottish Enterprise has a strong track record in supporting and investing in innovative, early stage companies and we are continuing to back great businesses, just like Scottish start-up TravelNest which recently secured £1.8 million from us and co-investment partners, to help drive ‘staycation’ growth and support a strong rebound from Covid-19.
And this year with COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland has a unique opportunity to play its part in addressing global climate challenges and galvanise engagement with the business community, the innovators and entrepreneurs, in Scotland and internationally. Scottish Enterprise will play a full and active role in maximising that opportunity in every way it can.
There are challenging times ahead. Scotland’s economy may not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024 and the impact of Covid-19 will be felt for many years to come but now is the time to look to the future with hope and ambition. To grasp the opportunity to shape a better future for the people and places in Scotland by creating more, better jobs that nurture shared wealth and wellbeing.
This plan sets out that stall of hope, opportunity and action working with our ambitious partners and businesses across Scotland to grow a fairer, greener Scotland for all.