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Plan will harness connections

McKee sets out Scots plan to retain investment lead

Ivan McKee

Ivan McKee: ‘building on our strengths’ (pic: Terry Murden)

A new plan was unveiled today to ensure Scotland retains its position as the UK’s top destination for inward investment outside London.

It has held that ranking for the past seven years and Scotland’s minister for trade, investment and innovation Ivan McKee outlined new ‘targeted’ measures to attract jobs.

Nine areas of opportunity have been identified: energy transition, decarbonisation of transport, food and drink innovation, software and IT, digital financial services, digital business services, space, health technology and the transformation of chemical industries.

Mr McKee said priority will be given to investors who can build local supply chains, provide new skills and invest in research. There will be an emphasis on the creation of regional clusters to encourage the spread of investment across Scotland.

The Scottish Government will aims to allocate up to £20 million a year to back the plan in the belief that it has the potential to increase GDP by £4.2 billion, boost exports by £2.1 billion over the next two decades and add up to £680 million a year to government revenues.

The revised approach seeks to deliver 100,000 jobs over the next decade.

In 2018, inward investors were responsible for 34% of employment in Scotland (624,000 jobs), 50% of turnover (£119.6 billion) and 77% of exports (£24.2 billion)

The announcement of a targeted approach confirmed comments by Scottish Enterprise chairman Lord Smith. Future trading relationships will have wellbeing, net zero and inclusivity at their core.

Ahead of his announcement Mr McKee said: “Inward investors already complement our existing industrial base, providing 34% of our jobs and 77% of our exports, but we can do better.

“The new strategic approach I am announcing today will build on our strengths, create tens of thousands of jobs and spread the benefits of inward investment more evenly across the country.

“It aims to create high-value, skilled jobs in growing sectors and attract businesses that share our progressive, outward-looking values.

“With global economies still being impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19), and the end of the Brexit transition period looming, this plan is designed play an important part in driving Scotland’s economic recovery.”

Lord Smith, in an article published at the weekend, said the GlobalScot network will help deliver this vision to key sectors and markets “and will be fully aligned with the wider Brand Scotland ambitions to harness the national story to deliver international growth”.

Lord Smith of Kelvin

Lord Smith: ‘we need a powerful network’

He stressed the importance of the GlobalScot network of Scots working around the world – and how “everything should be done to harness the power of this international network”.

Lord Smith said the GlobalScots had responded to Mr McKee’s “call-to-arms” to help secure and deliver critical supplies to NHS Scotland and other frontline services.

“We need a powerful network of advocates for Scotland, who will strengthen our links with the global economy and explain why our country remains such an extraordinary proposition,” said Lord Smith.

However, despite promoting the value of “building networks and relationships”, he made no mention of the Scottish Business Network, a privately-driven initiative which some say has been more successful than GlobalScots in building connections.

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