Striving to make scotland the best place to do business

  • John Swinney MSP

    “The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that firms of this ilk can thrive”

Commentary by John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and the Economy

This publication champions some of the most dynamic and ambitious companies in the UK.

The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that firms of this ilk – firms with aspirations to grow, innovate and create jobs – can thrive in Scotland.

Scotland’s economy has a diverse business base, with international successes in sectors including life sciences, food and drink, financial services and energy. Our aim is to build on these successes and to further broaden our business base, incentivise investment and encourage innovation – and we can see progress.

Registered businesses in Scotland are at an all-time high, and over recent years we have consolidated our position as the most successful part of the UK outside of London at attracting inward investment.

This progress reflects both the resilience and ingenuity of businesses in Scotland and the actions we have taken with our partners to support a thriving business environment.

We have a highly competitive rates regime, and our small business bonus scheme continues to deliver rates reductions to 100,000 business premises across the country. We have also retained our Enterprise Agencies, who work with thousands of companies each year to attract investment, create jobs and provide vital assistance to firms on export markets, innovation and access to finance. We established the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB), investing with private sector partners on a co-investment model, to provide early-stage equity to high-growth innovative companies. This joint public/private sector partnership has helped increase the number of active business angel syndicates as well as deal activity in Scotland, and as a consequence, we now have one of the most active business angel communities in the world.

And we are working to further widen our offer to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), for example through our new SME holding fund, which provides microcredit finance up to £25,000, loans up to £100,000 and equity investment up to £2m.

Our network of eight Innovation Centres across eight sectors was designed with dynamic SMEs in mind. It aims to enhance collaboration between business and academia to better commercialise Scotland’s excellence in research.

In addition to ensuring that Scotland has a supportive business environment, maintaining a skilled workforce and high-quality infrastructure is vital. We have five universities in the world’s top 200 and one of the most highly educated workforces in Europe. We have protected free higher education access for all and have also significantly increased the number of modern apprenticeships available.

At the same time, huge investment has been undertaken in upgrading our transport infrastructure and to achieve a step change in fibre broadband.

We will use additional powers conferred to Scotland to boost our competitiveness. We have already set out our intention to cut Air Passenger Duty within the next Parliament’s term – a signal that we will continue to use our powers to promote a positive business environment.

We know that businesses play a fundamental role in driving improvements in our economy, and we will continue to do all we can to make Scotland the best place in the UK in which to do business. Scotland is already the most prosperous part of the UK outside of London and the South East, and we have the resources, the people, the infrastructure, the world-class universities and the commitment from government to do even better.