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Double boost for enterprise

EA status lifts BioCity; SMEs see RSA benefit

Diane Harbison BioCityBioCity Scotland expects a huge boost after being designated a new Enterprise Area. The incubator in Lanarkshire becomes the fifth such site in Scotland.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the added zone as she extended Scotland’s Enterprise Areas by three years to 2020, providing a range of benefits to companies including rates relief and a quicker turnaround on planning applications.

She said it would reinforce its commitment to this “strategic life science location”.

“This will complement other initiatives under way at the site including the MediCity Scotland initiative which will focus on commercialisation in the medical technology sector as well as an Innovation Hub which was launched in April,” she said. “The Hub is providing early stage companies with an opportunity to learn from and work with major healthcare practitioners, entrepreneurs and scientists.”

Dr Diane Harbison (pictured), managing director of BioCity Scotland, said: “Enterprise Area status will be transformational for BioCity Scotland and we are delighted by the First Minister’s announcement as part of the 2015-16 Programme for Government.

“Over the last few months we have carried out a cross-party campaign with elected members to have BioCity Scotland share the stage with similar Scottish incubators, such as BioQuarter in Edinburgh, and we appreciate the support we have received from local MSPs and MPs.

“Enterprise Area status will give us real competitive advantage, with businesses now being able to take advantage of discounted business rates of up to 100 percent – a real shot in the arm for life sciences start-ups.  We already host a number of potentially world-class life science businesses so we are looking forward to having our new status implemented as quickly as possible so we can attract even more life sciences businesses and high quality jobs into Lanarkshire and into BioCity Scotland.”

RSA help for business

The help for life sciences came ahead of new figures showing that small firms secured the lion’s share of the government’s main grant assistance in the past year.

Scottish Enterprise offered £57.8million of Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) for projects with planned capital expenditure of £396.7 million, expected to create or safeguard 8,991 jobs across 121 companies.

The annual report, published today, shows that SMEs accounted for 61% of the accepted offers with a total grant of almost £13m. These projects involve planned investment of £67.4m with the aim of creating or safeguarding 1,367 jobs.

The results come on the back of the announcement in July that inward investment is at an all time high. RSA funding plays a crucial role in this success – more than half of the planned capital expenditure generated last year came from foreign-owned companies, as well as more than half the jobs expected to be created or safeguarded.

Grants were awarded across a broad range of priority sectors including, life sciences, energy, food and drink, and financial services.

Scottish Enterprise chief executive Lena Wilson said: “These are excellent results. We’re reaching SMEs and Scottish companies and helping them achieve their growth potential.

“We’re also attracting quality investments from foreign-owned companies in a highly-competitive global market.

“RSA is one of the most important tools we have at our disposal and this report demonstrates conclusively that we’re being successful in our efforts.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney, said: “These figures demonstrate the business sector’s continued – and growing – confidence in Scotland’s attractiveness as a country for investment. This confidence is built on the fact that Scotland now has the longest period of uninterrupted growth since 2001, of which we are rightfully proud.”

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