The RT Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP

  • "We will work with businesses, large and small, to ensure that inclusive growth and development are at the centre of our economy"

Commentary by The RT Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister of Scotland

I’m delighted that this year’s report includes a dedicated Scottish chapter. It highlights the great innovative businesses emerging from Scotland, and shows that our economy is moving in the right direction – even in the face of all the uncertainties caused by Brexit. Confidence remains largely stable despite those uncertainties, reflecting business resourcefulness and resilience. It also reflects the Scottish Government’s commitments to focus on our people and foster a sustainable and inclusive business environment for all to contribute to our future.

Scotland CAN DO is our approach to inclusion and collaboration. At its heart is a clear emphasis on partners working together to support growth and innovation, which goes hand in hand with wider benefits to all of society. It is starting to deliver results – Scotland’s economy is now ranked as the fifth most supportive of entrepreneurship globally, ahead of all other UK nations, and up from 12th in 2013. The proportion of people in Scotland actively trying to start a business has doubled and the gender gap has reduced.

At the same time, we are acutely aware that growing and scaling companies will be critical to Scotland’s long-term economic success, so we have also helped establish the Scotland CAN DO SCALE movement. This brings together a range of partner-led activity aimed at supporting some of our country’s most talented and ambitious entrepreneurs and smaller companies who want to take their business to the next level.

Another example of the support we are establishing is the Scottish National Investment Bank. This has the potential to transform Scotland’s economy, providing capital for businesses at all stages in their investment lifecycle – as well as important infrastructure projects – to catalyse private sector investment. It will be a cornerstone institution in Scotland’s financial landscape with ambition and vision to address our economic priorities in a sustainable, inclusive and ethical way.

Reflecting that entrepreneurial approach, Scotland is Now is a bold new campaign highlighting Scotland’s reputation as a progressive, pioneering and dynamic nation. It brings together the collective efforts of the Scottish Government, VisitScotland, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Development International and Universities Scotland to harness our energy, expertise and resources to reach out internationally, telling Scotland’s story of success and ambition. Building on that, we will shortly publish A Trading Nation, our export growth plan, which will set out our strategy for supporting companies in Scotland to grow their exports.

We all know that our businesses will only thrive in a productive economy – and central to that is ensuring our workforce is of the highest quality. That is why, in addition to our investment in innovation, skills and infrastructure, we are taking a long-term view to build competitiveness and capacity through fair work practices – creating the environment for people to achieve their potential and ensuring companies attract and retain highly skilled and motivated employees. We published an ambitious Fair Work Action Plan and are also taking action to address the gender pay gap – in our education system, in the workplace and across society. Although Scotland ranks as the best place in the UK for workplace gender equality, that should not be the limit of our ambition and I want to go much further.

My hope is that more and more businesses – not just in Scotland, but globally – will recognise the benefits of adopting an approach that harnesses the opportunities of a diverse, inclusive and productive labour market and an enterprising culture. I hope this year’s LSEG report will help to inspire the next generation of world-changing businesses.