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Scottish government sets out inward investment plan

Out-Law News | 02 Nov 2020 | 10:18 am | 2 min. read

The Scottish government has laid out its ambitions to be a leading destination for inward investment, identifying nine areas that could drive economic growth in the coming years.

The evidence-led plan aims to match existing strengths in terms of sectors, assets and people with current and projected global investment flows. It outlines the importance of targeting expansion with existing investors to repair the economic damage caused by Covid-19, as well as attracting new investors in the longer term.

According to the Inward Investment Plan, (85 page / 24.5MB PDF) the areas where the Scottish government sees the most opportunity for development are: energy transition; decarbonisation of transport; software and IT; digital financial services; digital business services; space; health technology; the transformation of chemical industries; and food and drink innovation.

The areas focused on take into account the changing business and economic landscape resulting from Covid-19 as well as the challenges posed by the climate emergency, an ageing population, Brexit and global trade disputes.

Public policy expert Mark Ferguson of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said the government was aiming to plot a recovery from the impact of Covid-19, and make the Scottish economy more resilient in the future.

Ferguson said: "The plan seeks to build regional clusters for different sectors, and places an emphasis on building the Scottish supply chain something that has proved challenging in sectors like renewables. It will also align with the soon-to-be-launched Scottish National Investment Bank, whose primary objective is to support Scotland’s transition to net-zero."

As well as identifying the nine sectors for growth, the plan sets out 18 actions which the Scottish government will take to build inward investment in Scotland. These include targeting the immediate expansion of the 50 largest investors into Scotland to “rapidly scale opportunities”, and identifying a further 50 global companies which the government wants to attract to Scotland across the nine “opportunity areas”.

Resource will be focused on strategic investments that deliver high-value jobs. The government also said it would increase the number of people trained in Scotland in advanced digital skills from 4,000 to 10,000 a year in alignment with the findings of a recent review carried out by Mark Logan into the Scottish technology sector.

Digital infrastructure will also be supported with investment in superfast broadband, to supply this to “100% of premises” across the country.

The Scottish government said it would work with universities to stimulate a collective approach to inward investment and innovation.

It also plans to align the Inward Investment Plan with its Infrastructure Investment Plan, targeting the £32 billion investment in the infrastructure strategy to boost inclusive economic growth, build sustainable places, and increase delivery of climate and environmental ambitions.

The Scottish government said only 3% of businesses in Scotland were foreign-owned, but already accounted for over a third of jobs, almost half of gross value added, just under two-thirds of business research and development spending and 75% of exports.

The plan was developed by a project team from across Scottish agencies including investment agency Scottish Development International, Skills Development Scotland and Scottish Enterprise.