To focus on Scotland’s enormous economic potential, in March, the Scottish Government published a national strategy to guide our economy over what will be a decisive decade.
Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will and the ongoing impact of Brexit are harming our economy. The Scottish Government does not yet have all the key economic tools to address that, which is why we believe the country needs the full economic powers of independence.
But, meanwhile, we aim to make maximum use of the powers we have, which is why the strategy offers a ruthless focus on delivery. It sets out how government, public bodies, economic agencies, trade unions, the third sector and, crucially, industry and businesses, can work together to achieve common goals.
The appointment I announced in Inverness of a Chief Entrepreneur sends out a strong signal of intent: the Scottish Government wants to make Scotland one of the best places in Europe for entrepreneurs and innovators to create and grow businesses.
Start-up businesses and the jobs they create are nearly always what tip the balance from contraction into expansion of the UK’s workforce. They also have an economic impact disproportionate to their growing status, constituting one per cent of businesses while generating £1.1 trillion for the economy.
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That is why we are supporting high-potential businesses as they fulfill their ambitions for sustainable growth and expand to new markets.
The next steps will involve engaging closely with Scotland’s existing community of start-up founders, entrepreneurship programs and the small business community so policy development and implementation focuses on meeting businesses’ needs.
They will include cementing the place of entrepreneurship within education and training, and supporting increased diversity and inclusion in businesses as they scale-up.
We’re starting from a good place. Scotland has an abundance of economic potential. Our natural resources, heritage, talent, creativity, academic institutions and business base in established and emerging sectors are sent across the world.
We want to build on this and the Scottish Government is investing at least £45 million to create more opportunities for tech start-ups.
The Scottish Tech Ecosystem Fund, recommended by the Logan Review, has made 34 awards totaling more than £1m, delivering a diverse range of ‘meet-ups’, events and projects.
But we know we can be better.
Our Program for Government takes forward another Logan Review recommendation: a new national network of Tech Scalers to help start-ups with high-growth prospects access world-class support and advice.
Using public investment to help scale-up innovative new businesses will enable them to compete globally and it will drive up productivity by backing our existing industries and investing in the industries of tomorrow.
A cornerstone of our economic ambitions must be to build a Scotland that invests in all our people and builds a fairer, more equal society.
That’s why actions like appointing a Chief Entrepreneur will help deliver economic growth.
We must be bold and laser-focused to maximize the impact of the actions we have identified as we help create an economy for all and we are ready to work together and get on with the task.
Kate Forbes MSP is Finance and Economy Secretary