Kate Forbes MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy, gave the keynote speech at our conference in September, reviewing the Government’s aim to accelerate economic growth in Scotland and the steps taken to date.
- Thank you for that kind introduction.
- I am so pleased to be here today and to see so many of Scotland’s entrepreneurial community gathered to discuss how we can find, finance and grow our most talented young companies.
Strengthening our Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
- The Scottish Government has long recognised the importance of developing our entrepreneurial ecosystem. We have over many years supported the growth of Scotland’s best prospects through the investment activities of Scottish Enterprise, supporting LINC Scotland and the business angel network, and more recently through the creation of the Scottish Growth Scheme, and the Scottish National Investment Bank.
LINC and business angel network
- We recognise the crucial role that LINC and its members have played, and continue to play, in investing in Scotland’s young companies.
- Under the auspices of LINC Scotland, business angel syndicates have grown in number from two syndicates in 2002 to around twenty today;
- The Scottish business angel marketplace is recognised as amongst the most developed in Europe, with LINC’s members currently supporting several hundred young innovative companies;
- Last year LINC’s members concluded almost 100 deals and invested £25m of their own capital;
- But whilst money is important, it’s not just about money. Business angels add considerable benefit to companies through their expertise, their wide knowledge of market sectors, and their network of business contacts. All of these contribute to the development and growth of young companies.
- So I’d now like to say a few words about what we’re doing to develop Scotland’s investment ecosystem, and how we’d like to work with you to achieve that.
Scottish National Investment Bank
- The Scottish National Investment Bank is ‘front and centre’ in achieving our goals of economic transformation. It is the first mission oriented investment bank in the UK and is being capitalised by the Scottish Government with £2 billion over a 10 year period.
- The Bank has already committed over £100 million across 6 investments so far, with more to come as it continues to develop a strong pipeline of mission-aligned investments.
- Its mission-oriented approach will give the Bank an opportunity to crowd-in and catalyse investment, create and shape new markets, and work to address societal challenges.
- By aligning the Bank’s aims and objectives with Scotland’s Economic Strategy, the Bank has the potential to transform Scotland’s economy by offering long-term, patient capital on commercial terms and investing debt and equity in businesses, projects and communities across Scotland.
- The Bank seeks to invest where the risks are beyond the appetite of private capital, so it will complement and build on the substantial contribution of Scotland’s existing investors.
Tech Ecosystem and Logan review
- As Scotland’s early stage market has developed over the years, we also recognise that we can’t stand still. In the last 18 months we have been engaging with investors, entrepreneurs and young companies to see how we can develop those efforts further, making more companies aware of their growth potential and more investors interested in them.
- These ambitions are reflected in the Logan Review, the Global Capital Investment Plan, and will also be a strong theme in our 10 year National Strategy for Economic Transformation.
- I invited former COO of Skyscanner, Mark Logan, to conduct a review of our tech ecosystem in May 2020, and the Scottish Government has committed to implementing all 34 of the review’s recommendations.
- Implementation will include the creation of a national network of tech scalers: these will be innovative, world-class infrastructure to support, educate and scale our tech businesses. This is a powerful commitment that will help our start-up community connect, collaborate, develop and thrive.
- This year, we will also invest £1m in an Ecosystem Fund that will make strategic investments in our tech community. The fund will focus on the organisations and activities that create the best possible environment for our start-ups to succeed by attracting new talent and investment.
- Scotland’s tech sector is vital in supporting our nation’s economic transformation, and LINC’s members have made a great contribution to developing the sector as it’s been a key focus of their investment activities.
- It is our responsibility as a Government to create the conditions for Scottish tech to thrive, harnessing the power of technology as a force to carry us into a future that is greener, fairer and more prosperous.
Global Capital Investment Plan
- Building on the Logan review, in March of this year we published our Global Capital Investment Plan which seeks to achieve alignment between Scotland’s investment needs beyond the tech sector; and the supply of internationally mobile capital.
- Focusing on these growth sectors, and in particular on the space and infrastructure they need to grow, will enable us to generate a series of both place and sector oriented investment propositions.
- The benefits of this approach are wider than company investment. Successful place-making requires economic, physical, and networking assets to be high quality and well-integrated. Great places to live and work are powerful attractors for economic activity, creating a clustering effect, where different types of investment impact positively on each other.
- Leading with our strongest sectors, and their spill-over into the space and talent they need, in turn drives the viability of city and town centres around them. Keeping companies and investment here by making sectors and places mutually viable is absolutely critical to Scotland’s future success.
- Life sciences is also featured here today on the programme. Scotland has a global reputation for innovation in life sciences and industrial biotechnology, providing sustainable and scalable solutions to the many challenges we are progressing.
- The importance of the life sciences sector in Scotland was demonstrated in its swift response to the COVID-19 pandemic, by sourcing and manufacturing of vital equipment, testing capability as well as ensuring lab capacity and the many vaccine and therapeutic treatments.
- The bio-economy will clearly support recovery plans for Scotland, creating jobs and opportunities, and crucially a sustainable approach to benefit the low carbon agenda.
- But we also have a number of companies leaving Scotland in order to find growth capital. We need to reverse this with a renewed strategic focus on retaining strengths and further developing supply chains in health related sectors.
- We are now working on an Investment Strategy for NHS Scotland and Life Science industries that is globally connected and locally rooted to protect and grow this vital sector.
- This will build on the success of the sector in supporting NHS Scotland’s response to COVID-19 and further strengthen local supply chains.
- A working group, [Chaired by Ian Campbell (LifeArc)] has been established to look at how we can attract more investment into the life sciences sector in Scotland.
- In establishing the group, we have drawn on interests from across the life sciences ecosystem – including investors, entrepreneurs, and representatives from industry, academia and the public sector.
- That willingness to work together across boundaries, I think, is the best and fastest way to create the conditions for businesses to scale and flourish in Scotland, with the aim of attracting more investors to deploy capital here.
Economic Recovery & Transformation
- I now want to return to my core theme today, on the role that young innovative companies and their investors play in economic recovery and transformation.
- The Scottish economy faces unprecedented challenges as it recovers from the pandemic and transitions to becoming a net zero economy.
- To guide the economy through this period, the Scottish Government has committed to delivering a new 10 year National Strategy for Economic Transformation.
- Transformational change is a national endeavour and the Scottish Government has heard directly from businesses, workers and stakeholders from right across the country, generating ideas on how to transform the economy and help us reach net zero.
- The new strategy will set out the steps we will take to deliver a green economic recovery and support new, green jobs, businesses and industries for the future.
- We have established The Advisory Council for Economic Transformation to shape and guide the implementation of the strategy. The Council brings together representatives from industry, business, trade unions and academia.
- And my personal ambition is that this strategy moves off the paper that will carry it, and into delivery and execution.
- And that delivery takes us back to you, and to today. The importance of the early stage marketplace and its contribution to our economic recovery and transformation cannot be understated.
- Matching innovation and investment is one of the keys to economic growth, so the contribution of the angel investor community in Scotland through its long-term, patient approach is of great significance.
- I have highlighted today a range of transformative Scottish Government policies and actions that are being taken at pace to support innovative early stage business and our economic recovery.
- But I also applaud Young Company Finance and LINC Scotland for their activities in supporting a pipeline of innovative young companies with high growth potential in obtaining early stage patient capital from LINC Scotland’s member syndicates.
- I urge you to work hand in glove with us to towards the prize of economic transformation. It may not be an easy road but we have a clear direction of travel.