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Funding to unlock £270m

Sturgeon unveils £45m boost for business research

Sturgeon defiant
Sturgeon: shaping the future

Nicola Sturgeon today unveiled a £45 million boost for business research as part of a package of measures aimed at boosting economic growth.

The new funding over three years represents a 70% increase in Scottish Government funding for businesses to conduct new R&D projects. It is expected to unlock a further £270m of investment by companies.

In the coming weeks, the First Minister will set out key areas in which the government will be making further commitments to help Scotland capitalise on economic opportunities, including:

  • Extra help for the advanced manufacturing, energy and financial technology sectors
  • Plans to support graduate entrepreneurs
  • Support for companies to access finance
  • Plans to make Scotland an early adopter of electric and ultra-low emission vehicles

During a visit to Spirit AeroSystems Europe in Prestwick, Ms Sturgeon outlined her vision to see Scotland design and produce the products of the future.

She highlighted the twin importance of innovation and inclusion to ensure Scotland is in the best position to benefit from changes in the economy.

She confirmed that the Ayrshire company has won a contract to produce carbon wing components for the Airbus A320 aircraft.

With the support of £2.1m of research and development (R&D) funding from Scottish Enterprise, Spirit was able to secure the contract, which will create more than 100 jobs.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I am determined that Scotland leads on the key technological and social changes. I want Scotland to be the inventor and producer of the innovations that shape the future – not just a consumer of them.

“Spirit AeroSystems is an excellent example of a company providing industry-leading expertise and investing in Scotland. It is significant that research and development grant support from Scottish Enterprise has helped the business win this important new Airbus contract.

“R&D drives innovation, which in turn boosts productivity and economic growth. That is why R&D support from our enterprise agencies will increase almost 70% – from £22m to £37m per year. We expect this additional £45m over three years will unlock a further £270m R&D expenditure by companies.

“We need to not only embrace technological innovations, we also must ensure that economic growth is inclusive – so that everyone benefits and has a fair chance to contribute. In the coming weeks I will set out further plans for Scotland’s economy and how we can make further progress towards achieving both of these key aims.”

However, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie described the First Minister’s comments on the economy as an embarrassment.

Mr Rennie said: “A year ago the First Minister promised half a billion pounds of guarantees and loans to Scottish companies. It was part of what she called “exceptional response” to economic problems.

“Not a single penny has been paid out in loans or guarantees so far. Meanwhile Scottish business is lumbered with expensive increases in business rates. This is an insult to Scottish business.

“The SNP’s economic plan does not add up.”

Andy Willox, the FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said: “The First Minister is right to argue that we must raise our economic game. But, despite the visit to the aeronautics facility, we cannot get starry-eyed.  

“Smaller firms account for more than half of Scottish private sector employment and account for four in five jobs in remote and rural areas. Supporting and developing these businesses and local economies must be a consideration for every one of the Scottish Government’s portfolios.”   

Ahead of the Scottish Parliament returning from recess next week, FSB is calling on the Scottish Government to deliver new rates help for nurseries. This follows a meeting between Finance Secretary Derek Mackay and FSB to discuss the Barclay review of business rates. 

Mr Willox said: “At yesterday’s meeting, FSB gave qualified support for the Barclay reforms – arguing that local businesses needs to be considered at every turn.

“Ministers need to grab the rates system by the scruff of the neck and deliver a system fit for the 21st century. The Scottish Government must heed FSB calls for a new business investment relief, the so-called Business Growth Accelerator.

“It is easy to understand that affordable local childcare is important to the success of local economies. But because these businesses operate from specially adapted (and therefore high-value) properties, many are excluded from the rates help that other smaller firms enjoy.

“Tackling this particular anomaly at the earliest opportunity looks like an easy way to help deliver the inclusive growth for which the country strives.”

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