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Thursday, 18 May 2017

Newsflash! Strathclyde Business School and Melting Pot Edinburgh Speakers to Present Workplace Innovation Case Studies, 30/5 - Book Today!

Expert Seminar to Demonstrate 'What Works' in Workplace Innovation and How to Support New Workplace Practices 

A learning workshop from the Economic Development Association Scotland and the Scottish Universities Insight Institute, 2pm - .4.30pm, 30 May 2017, SUII Centre, University of Strathclyde. 

A workplace innovation expert from Strathclyde Business School and the founder of the Melting Pot co-working centre in Edinburgh will speak at a unique event exploring the benefits of new workplace practices for businesses, employees and wider society in Scotland. 

Also featuring speakers from Scottish Enterprise and Oxfam Scotland, this event will highlight case studies of workplace innovation in practice, as well as exploring how economic development practitioners can support initiatives to improve workforce engagement, harness employee potential, and embed co-working and fair work practices in businesses throughout Scotland. See full information and speaker list below and reserve your place today

Dr Colin Linsday of Strathclyde Business School will talk about 'what works' in workplace innovation, drawing upon a recent collaborative research project on this topic. He will give insight into various examples of workplace innovation in Scotland, and share a video of employers talking about their experiences of workplace innovation. Dr Lindsay has been researching and teaching on employability, skills, public management and social policy for more than fifteen years, and is a contributing author to Workplace Innovation in Small to Medium Sized Enterprises in Scotland (2015).

Claire Carpenter
 is founder and managing director of The Melting Pot co-working centre in Edinburgh. Claire will discuss The Melting Pot as a case study of work-space innovation, and how the creation of a co-working space has helped organisations and social entrepreneurs share knowledge and develop their businesses. This talk will give insight into the Melting Pot, the Co-Working Accelerator Network, and the difference these projects are making to the social enterprise community more broadly.

Other speakers at this event are: Clare Alexander, Head of Workplace Innovation, Scottish Enterprise; Francis Stuart, Research and Policy Adviser, Oxfam Scotland; and (Event Chair) Charlie Woods, Director, SUII & Vice-Char, EDAS. See full information below. 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Scottish Unemployment Falls Below UK Rate

BBC - Unemployment in Scotland has fallen by 14,000 in the three months to March to reach 120,000, official figures have shown.

It takes the jobless rate to 4.4% - below the rate of 4.6% for the whole of the UK.
The labour market statistics also show that employment in Scotland increased by 5,000 and now stands at 2,620,000.

In the UK as a whole, the unemployment rate is at its lowest level in 42 years.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the Scottish employment rate increased by 0.3 percentage points over the quarter to 74%. The rate is below the UK average of 74.8%.

In April 2017, the number of people out of work and claiming Jobseeker's Allowance was 48,200. 

The claimant count, including Universal Credit, was 80,000.

The Scottish government said the ONS figures also showed a strong performance for Scotland in the female labour market, with the unemployment rate for women falling by 0.7 percentage points over the year to 4.2%.

The youth employment rate was 3.9 percentage points higher than the previous year, with the level rising by 15,000.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: "Today's statistics show that Scotland's labour market continues to perform well in the face of significant economic challenges.

"Unemployment is down, employment is up and Scotland's youth unemployment rate is the fourth lowest in the EU. This is welcome news.

"We will work to support employment and our priority remains developing the correct conditions for economic growth, including through taking forward our multi-billion pound infrastructure plan, and the Scottish Growth Scheme."

Mr Brown added that the Scottish government would continue to tackle issues around inactivity in the labour market.

Source: BBC News

Scottish Chambers of Commerce Opens Trade Office in China

BBC - Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) has officially opened a new international trade office in Yantai, China.

The announcement came during a trade mission to China involving business leaders from across Scotland.

SCC said a recent Chinese policy of opening up to new overseas alliances presented "a myriad of opportunities" for Scottish businesses.

It added there was potential to sell goods and services which Chinese firms and consumers wanted and needed.

The trade mission saw SCC hold meetings with senior business people, politicians and local government officials, as well as "think tanks" in Beijing, Yantai and Jinan in the eastern province of Shandong.

The Scottish delegation was led by SCC's new president, Tim Allan, and chief executive Liz Cameron.

During the visit, SCC signed a memorandum of understanding for "trade engagement and partnership" with senior officials from the Yantai municipal government.

'Exploratory visit'

Ms Cameron said: "This exploratory visit is part of the new partnership which was formed between Scottish business, through our extensive chamber network, and the Scottish government to utilise the worldwide connectivity of the business community.

"We now have a deeper understanding of how we can achieve the best exchange for business, where the opportunities exist for Scottish organisations and how we can best pursue these.

"We have also identified several potential opportunities for inward investment into Scotland and will be working with Scottish government and SDI as well as other trade organisations to explore these and leverage the momentum of change within China."

She added: "Our next steps will be to undertake a deep-dive of companies based in Scotland who have products, skills and expertise which have the potential to be exported to the Shandong Province area.

"Our aim is to add impetus to the Scottish economy by assisting companies who have not previously thought about exporting to grasp the potential that international trade offers."

'Key sectors'

According to SCC, Shandong Province represents the third largest economy in China, with a population of nearly 100 million.

Key sectors it has identified as being of interest to Scottish businesses include robotics, bioscience, manufacturing, engineering and smart technologies, agriculture, food and drink and football management.

SCC said there were also opportunities in consumer goods, recreation and tourism services, financial and professional services and education.

SCC intends to return to the province later this year to "explore new ways to foster co-operation between the two countries".

Source: BBC News

Friday, 12 May 2017

Newsflash! The Scottish Economy's Workplace Innovation Opportunity

The Opportunities of Workplace Innovation for the Scottish Economy 

A learning workshop from the Economic Development Association Scotland and the Scottish Universities Insight Institute, 2pm - .4.30pm, 30 May 2017, SUII Centre, University of Strathclyde. 

The Head of Workplace Innovation at Scottish Enterprise is to deliver a talk on the opportunities of innovative workplace practices for organisations in Scotland.

The workplace is facing unprecedented change as we transition from industrialism to the digital revolution. New and diverse ways of how and where we work are being made possible by new technologies, at a time when quality of work and equity in the workplace are rising on the policy agenda.
Clare will talk about the development of initiatives to drive progressive and creative practices of workplace innovation in Scotland and the role of policy levers in embedding these. An expert in the growing field of "workplace innovation", Clare leads SE's Workplace Innovation support service - encouraging businesses to make the most of more diverse, engaged and talented workforces and fair and responsible business practices. 

In this unique learning and networking opportunity for economic development practitioners and public, private and third sector organisations, Clare will  be joined by speakers from the Scottish Universities Insight Institute, Strathclyde Business SchoolOxfam Scotland, and case studies of workplace innovation in practice. Please see full information and speaker list below.

Workplace Innovation in Scotland

This learning workshop is delivered by the Scottish Universities Insight Institute and the Economic Development Association Scotland. All those with an interest in economic development, the labour market, skills utilisation, human resources, or learning about how their organisation could benefit from innovative workplace practices are encouraged to attend.

Event Details

Tuesday 30 May, 2 - 4.30pm
SUII Centre, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
Refreshments provided
£25 + VAT EDAS Member / £50 + VAT Non-Members [Join to gain member rate]


This event explores the Scottish approach to workplace innovation - what the concept means; the potential benefits for organisations and employees; how workplace transformation can help achieve economic and social policy goals; and the policy levers available in Scotland to take advantage of the transition to the workplace of the 21st century.

According to a recent research project supported by SUII, collaborative workplace innovation can improve business/organisational outcomes, benefit individuals, and help improve competitiveness while tackling inequality. Such practices are of great interest at the international level and to the Scottish Government.

EDAS and SUII invite you to join expert speakers, practitioners and case study presenters to learn about how we can all support workplace innovation to the benefit of Scotland's economy and society. Don't miss out on this chance to learn about this important topic and network with members of the economic development community 

Confirmed Speakers

Charlie Woods, Director, SUII & Vice-Chair, EDAS
Introduction and Overview of Workplace Innovation.

Clare Alexander, Head of Workplace Innovation, Scottish Enterprise 
The Scottish policy approach, and opportunities and challenges of workplace innovation for business.

Dr Colin Lindsay, Reader in Human Resource Management, Strathclyde Business School
'What works' in workplace innovation: lessons from the SUII-supported programme Progressive and creative practice for workplace innovation.

Francis Stuart, Research and Policy Adviser, Oxfam Scotland 
Workforce and societal benefits of workplace innovation - findings emerging from the Oxfam - University of the West of Scotland - University of Warwick research project on Decent Work in Scotland.
Case study presentations to be announced shortly. 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

£43m announced for low-carbon infrastructure projects

Scottish Government - Details of how more than £43 million is being invested in low-carbon infrastructure were announced today by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Shared across 13 projects throughout Scotland, this investment represents one of the largest direct energy investments in the last 10 years. The funding, awarded by the Low Carbon Infrastructure 

Transition Programme (LCITP), will be matched by a minimum of £43 million from private and public sector partners.

Projects include an innovative local energy system on Fair Isle, an energy storage project in Shetland, low-carbon heat networks in Dundee, Stirling, Clydebank and Glenrothes and the installation of a heat pump on the River Clyde to serve the Gorbals area.

Speaking at the All Energy Conference in Glasgow, the First Minister said:

“These projects have great potential to help us tackle climate change, and remain at the forefront of low carbon and renewable innovation. They will also bring economic benefits – in terms of savings and jobs – to local areas across the country.

“Scotland has some of the most ambitious emissions reduction targets in the world. Over the past 10 years, our pattern of energy consumption has changed considerably, helping us to meet – and exceed – our 2020 target for reducing energy consumption, six years early.

“We are determined to build on this success, and we are now seeking views on a new target through our draft Energy Strategy – for 50% of our energy consumption – spanning heat, transport and electricity – to be met by renewables by 2030.

“With Scotland’s world-leading expertise in renewables, which employs at least 11,000 people, and a growing workforce of at least 58,000 in the low carbon sector, I am confident of our future success.”
Dave Pearson, Director at Star Renewable Energy, added:

“Star has been trying to replicate the success of its river heat pump in Norway for some time but has struggled to progress a similar example in Scotland.

“The support provided by the Scottish Government through the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme has recognised both the technical and commercial potential of our project in Glasgow’s Gorbals.

“The programme is providing excellent support in placing a high temperature river heat pump – the largest in the UK – at the Clyde to supply clean, low carbon heat to buildings in the Gorbals, helping us to collectively work to significantly reduce CO2 emissions in Scotland.”


The Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme is a collaborative partnership led by the 
Scottish Government, working with Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish 

Futures Trust and Resource Efficient Scotland. It focuses on the acceleration of low carbon infrastructure projects across public, private and community sectors, helping them to create investment business cases and secure capital finance from public and private sources. The programme is supported by the European Regional Development Fund.

The full list of projects is available on the LCITP website.

The consultation on the draft Energy Strategy is open until 30 May.

Report of EDAS & SDI's Internationalisation Learning Workshop on Exporting Now Available

On Friday 31st March 2017, internationalisation experts from the Scottish Government, local authorities, academia, social enterprise and the private sector gathered to discuss strategies and support for growing the global aspirations of businesses and organisations in Scotland.

This report gives the ‘story’of the day, including social media interaction and presentations for download:

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

EDAS / SUII Event: Workplace Innovation in Scotland, 30 May 2017

A learning workshop from the Economic Development Association Scotland and the Scottish Universities Insight Institute

Tuesday 30 May, 2.30 – 4pm
SUII Centre, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
Refreshments provided
£25 + VAT EDAS Member / £50 + VAT Non-Members [Join to gain member rate]

This event explores the Scottish approach to workplace innovation – what the concept means; the potential benefits for organisations and employees; how workplace transformation can help achieve economic and social policy goals; and the policy levers available in Scotland to aid the transition to the workplace of the 21st century.
According to a recent research project supported by SUII, collaborative workplace innovation can improve business/organisational outcomes, benefit individuals, and help improve competitiveness while tackling inequality. Such practices are of great interest at the international level and to the Scottish Government.
EDAS and SUII invite you to join expert speakers, practitioners and case study presenters to learn about how we can all support workplace innovation to the benefit of Scotland’s economy and society. Don’t miss out on this chance to learn about this important topic and network with members of the economic development community from across sectors!

Charlie Woods, Director, SUII & Vice-Char, EDAS
Introduction and Overview of Workplace Innovation.
Clare Alexander, Head of Workplace Innovation, Scottish Enterprise 
The Scottish policy approach and enterprise benefits of workplace innovation.
Dr Colin Lindsay, Reader in Human Resource Management, Strathclyde Business School
'What works' in workplace innovation: lessons from the SUII-supported programme Progressive and creative practice for workplace innovation
Further speakers and case study presentations to be announced shortly. 

SCVO Local Funding Survey Highlights Long-Term Funding Issues for Third Sector

SCVO - In this report, we demonstrate the many difficulties and intricacies of local funding for much of the third sector. Most of the funding issues faced by the sector arise whatever type of funding the organisation is seeking: grant funding, a service level agreement, or a contract. Similarly, these issues arise for organisations regardless of whether they are working with local authorities, health boards, or other local or regional public funders. Read full article and report here.

When it comes to local funding from public bodies, the sector suffers from short term, small pots of money, with long-term funding in the minority; this can have real impacts for individuals and communities. The sector still does not always get the support it needs, and funding processes and monitoring can still seem unduly long and burdensome. There is some good practice across Scotland – showing that there is a better way to operate – and this needs to be the norm rather than the exception.

In brief:
  • If the funding situation for the sector continues as at present, much of the sector will be unable to continue its work – leading to a loss for communities and individuals across Scotland and beyond.
  • All local and regional bodies must improve their processes and their funding systems so that the third sector can function to the best of the ability, delivering the aims that its organisations exist for.
  • Currently, much time and energy is expended by organisations on seeking funding to stay afloat. This is time that could be better spent on achieving an organisation’s aims – delivering for communities – were money not an issue.
  • Much funding does not allow for long-term projects or planning, meaning regular stress and upheaval for organisations, communities and individuals.
  • It is not, generally, large pots of money that are required, but rather a change in funding terms and processes – including recognising full projects costs and core costs. Supportive staff at funder organisations can also help here.


Funding processes
  1. More must continue to be done to simplify all application and bidding processes wherever possible. Forms and processes should be standardised wherever appropriate.
  2. Full support should always be available to applicants to help them through the application or bidding process. Useful and timely feedback should be provided as a matter of course.
  3. Information across funders and commissioners should be pooled where appropriate, to ensure that the third sector is not unnecessarily repeating information that has already been shared.
  4. Shared learning on best practice amongst funders and commissioners would be beneficial.
  5. The third sector, working alongside funders, should ascertain whether it would be both useful and practical to create a single point where third sector organisations can apply for grants.
  6. Where consortium bids are encouraged, support should be given, particularly to small organisations.
Funding terms and conditions

  1. The most appropriate form of funding mechanism must be used for each situation; open tendering processes should only be used when appropriate.
  2. Minimum wage costs and uplifts, and inflationary uplifts, should be provided as a matter of course wherever applicable.
  3. Funding levels must match the service levels required, and core costs must be taken into account when calculating funding.
  4. Funding should cover periods greater than a year for continuing services and projects – preferably three years – in order to provide stability to those the sector supports.
  5. Whatever the grant or contract length, funding should never be withdrawn ‘out of the blue’. Neither should funding be reduced because an organisation has raised funds elsewhere.
  6. Monitoring and evaluation should be kept to a level commensurate with the amount of funding/size of agreement applied for.

£8.35 million to support urban regeneration in centre of Glasgow

Scottish Government - Housing Minister Kevin Stewart today announced investment of £8.35 million from its SPRUCE fund to support the refurbishment of vacant office space in central Glasgow.

It’s a move that will deliver around 71,000 ft2 of much needed new high quality Grade “A” office space for the city as well as create and support hundreds of new jobs.

With total investment expected be around £16.4 million, Tarn Crag Limited (TCL), a subsidiary of commercial property investor Praxis, will refurbish Dalmore House, a landmark building on St Vincent Street. It is expected the refurbished office space will be able to accommodate more than 500 workers.

Construction works have now commenced with the offices due to be ready for lease by October this year.

Kevin Stewart, Minister for Housing said:

“Glasgow has a shortage of high quality office space and this latest investment will increase the city’s stock, making it an even more appealing proposition to locate and do business in.

“The fact that it will support 196 new jobs in construction plus training and apprenticeship places in the city is very welcome news. This is exactly why we have provided additional support for SPRUCE, allowing it to continue to invest in this sort of regeneration project, and helping our urban areas flourish and ultimately support the communities which sustain them. SPRUCE funding can now be accessed for projects right across Scotland and we hope to see further investments during 2017. ”

Gary Roberts, Managing Director at Praxis said:

“We are extremely pleased to have reached agreement with SPRUCE and Chenavari who have also provided investment to deliver this refurbishment in partnership with us and are delighted that both have bought into our vision for the property. Their involvement further bolsters the first class team that we have assembled to deliver the project.”


SPRUCE (Scottish Partnership for Regeneration in Urban Centres) is a £50 million fund that offers loans and equity investments to revenue generating infrastructure and energy efficiency projects which support regeneration outcomes in Scotland. Funding for the Dalmore transaction has come from an additional £15 million injected into SPRUCE by the Scottish Government in the form of 2016/17 Financial Transactions Capital.

Dalmore House is a 26 years old, 70,000 ft2 landmark building on 310 St Vincent Street, Glasgow. TCL will comprehensively refurbish the building to a modern Grade “A” EPC “B” standard over a six month period, with the lettable area being expanded to c71,000 ft2 .

TCL is a 100% subsidiary of Praxis, a UK based commercial property market investor. SPRUCE will be the senior lender to TCL for Dalmore. Further funding has been provided to TCL by AREO S.à.r.l. (“AREO”), a private limited liability company managed by London-based Chenavari Investment Managers (“Chenavari”).

Brexit Skills and Labour Gap Risk for Scottish Firms, Says FSB

FSB Scotland - Two thirds of Scottish small employers with EU workers are concerned about future skills shortages, according to new research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

FSB’s new study shows one quarter (26%) of Scottish small employers currently have a member of staff from elsewhere in the EU, with this figure rising to two in five (41%) in the Highlands. By comparison, about a fifth of UK firms have an EU worker.

The small business campaign group says that is therefore vital for Scottish businesses that EU workers are given the right to remain in the country after the UK leaves the EU. 

Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, said: “There is real concern among small firms with EU staff that they will lose access to the skills and labour their business needs to survive and grow. EU workers are a vital part of our economy, helping to plug chronic skills gaps across a wide range of sectors, and filling jobs in an already tight labour market. From packers, to mechanics, to graphic designers, small employers need to be able to hire the right person, for the right job at the right time.”

‘A skilful exit: What small firms want from Brexit’ is FSB’s latest research paper on the impact of leaving the EU – and a Scottish version of the report has been published.

The new research shows that, if Brexit creates additional barriers to recruiting EU citizens, Scottish small employers would consider reducing operations (37%), closing their business (19%), or moving their business abroad (12%).

Nine in ten Scottish firms (89%) recruited their EU workers when they were already living in the UK. And the vast majority of UK small firms (95%) have no experience of using the UK’s points-based immigration system to recruit non-EU workers.

Almost half (45%) of Scottish smaller businesses in the tourism and leisure sector have an EU worker. However a similar proportion of smaller firms with EU workers say they mainly employ people with mid-level skills (i.e. positions which require specialist skills or training.)

Andy Willox, FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said: “Smaller Scottish employers don’t have the resources of their larger counterparts to navigate complex immigration systems. Any future system needs to work for the real economy – and needs to flex to adapt to the needs of all sectors and geographies. It can’t just be big businesses that gain access to the skills they need.” 

FSB is also recommending changes to the Scottish skills and education system to try to mitigate the impact of any immigration changes. 

Andy Willox said: “Our data shows that our members predominantly recruit non-UK EU citizens because they’re the best candidates. If our immigration system is set to change, then our skills system needs to do the same.”

Source: FSB Scotland

One Week to the IED North Conference, 10 May, Manchester

IED - Don't forget to book your place at the IED North Conference being held in central Manchester on the 10th May. 

Taking place at the Lowry Hotel and featuring a keynote speech from Lord Heseltine, the IED North Conference will be bringing together economic development, regeneration and business leaders from across the Northern region and beyond, to discuss how the public and private sectors can work together as the North to foster economic development and make a real difference in the region.

To book your place please click here

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Exciting Opportunity for a Senior Consultant with ekosgen – Glasgow

Application deadline: 10 May 2017

Are you committed to a career in economic development? Do you want to become part of an exciting business and help us to achieve our growth plans? ekosgen is one of the UK’s leading independent economic consultancy firms providing advice to public and private sector clients. We provide economic and social insight to help our clients make better decisions and have a positive impact on people, places and the economy. We aim to be their consultant of choice for expert advice, timely support, innovative thinking and realistic, affordable and workable strategies and plans.

As a consultant your workload will always be changing to reflect new local and national priorities and the needs of our individual clients but you will work on a wide range of economic issues including employment, skills, innovation, business growth, communities, health, land and premises, culture, leisure and tourism.  

Flexibility, team player, listens to clients and has a passion for new ideas and creativity, great at multi-tasking, self-motivated and energetic, can keep calm under pressure and exhibits professionalism. If you think you fit the bill then we want to hear from you!

This is an exciting opportunity for an individual seeking career progression, with:
  • A good honours degree (and ideally a post-graduate qualification) in economics, social geography, politics or town planning
  • At least 5 years previous consultancy and/or research experience
  • Excellent quantitative and analytical skills
  • Excellent written skills including report writing
  • Experience of managing or commissioning consultancy projects
Experience in two or more of the following areas of work is also required:
  • Economic impact assessment
  • Project and programme evaluation
  • Project development and case making support
  • Strategy development
  • Socio-economic assessment
We offer a competitive salary and a range of other benefits including:
  • 35 days holiday
  • Employer contribution pension scheme
  • Childcare vouchers
  • Employee wellbeing initiatives such as cycle to work scheme, travel pass funding
  • A positive and supportive work culture where people are supported to realise their full potential (including through a performance and career management system and training)
  • Staff Wellbeing Package which includes free dental and optical care
  • Performance Related Bonus
We are an Equal Opportunities employer. We do not discriminate on the grounds of gender, race, disability, religion, age or sexuality.

If you are interested in working for a dynamic organisation please send us your CV with a covering letter by email to Lee Williamson, Business Support Manager at

The closing date for applications is 10th May 2017.

£500,000 Announced to Tackle Employment Barriers in Scotland

Scottish Government - Funding of £500,000 to address long standing barriers in accessing the labour market has been announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The Workplace Equality Fund will reduce employment inequalities so that everyone – irrespective of gender, race or disability – has the opportunity to fulfil their potential, and improve Scotland’s economic performance as a result.

Speaking at the STUC annual congress in Aviemore, the First Minister said:

“Our trade union movement is a source of huge strength for our country. We see strong trade unions as vital partners in our efforts to reduce inequality and deliver inclusive growth.

“One of the values our Scottish Business Pledge seeks to encourage is gender equality in the workplace. We want to close the gap between the proportion of men in the workforce and the proportion of women, and tackle barriers to progression and unfair pay differentials.

“But we also know there are employment inequalities across other protected characteristics – like race and disability.  

“So I am pleased to announce that, through our new Workplace Equality Fund, we will provide an initial £500,000 to help address these disparities. The funding will go to groups who can demonstrate that their efforts will help people overcome employment barriers.

“It’s a small but potentially significant way in which we can help address a major economic and social issue.  And it’s in-keeping with the broader principles of the union movement and our shared commitment to fair work and inclusive growth.  By ensuring everyone in society is able to flourish, everybody in Scotland will benefit.”


A commitment to establish the Workplace Equality Fund was made in the Labour Market Strategy.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

New Scotland House innovation and investment hub opens in London

Scottish Government - Scotland’s latest Innovation and Investment Hub has officially opened in London with more than 450 businesses registering their interest in becoming members in the first few weeks.

Aimed at helping ambitious Scottish companies take advantage of business opportunities in London and internationally, Scotland House will provide touchdown facilities and a place to meet customers and target new markets, secure investment and showcase products and services.

It also brings together officials from the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and VisitScotland under one roof to provide a Team Scotland approach to supporting businesses and attracting visitors and investment to Scotland.

Officially opening Scotland House, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“London is a very important trading market and a meeting place for the world’s business leaders, but for Scottish businesses it can be challenging and costly to try and break into these markets.

“The new hub will play a critical role in attracting investment to Scotland, helping businesses trade internationally and raising Scotland’s international profile.

“Scotland House will provide Scottish companies with a base to build new partnerships and a low cost place to trade and I am pleased that more than 450 businesses are interested in becoming members of the hub.

“As we face the uncertainty and threat of a hard Brexit, having a Scottish hub in London will help support and stimulate the Scottish economy and show that we are open for business.

“We are already seeing the benefits of our presence in Dublin and I look forward to our next investment and innovation hubs in Brussels and Berlin.”


Images from the official opening will be available on

Scottish businesses are being encouraged to register their interest in ‘Scotland House’, which will provide a meeting space for businesses and other organisations as well as London-based support to businesses working with Scotland’s enterprise and tourism agencies.

Full membership details will be launched in the coming weeks, businesses can register their interest in Scotland House.

Based at 58 Victoria Embankment, Scotland House will also provide a base for the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Development International and VisitScotland in London.

It follows the opening of the first Innovation and Investment Hub in Dublin last year with plans progressing on Hubs in Brussels and Berlin.

FSB: Target £6bn Scottish council procurement spend on smaller firms

FSB - The average Scottish council spends less than a fifth of their procurement budget with local small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), figures uncovered by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) show.

Launching its manifesto ahead of the May 4 council polls, the small business campaign group says Scotland’s incoming town hall administrations must pledge to increase spending with local firms. Scotland’s 32 local authorities spend over £6.1 billion a year procuring goods and services.
Statistics collated by the Improvement Service – the national organisation tasked with improving local government – show that the average Scottish council spent only 19.7 per cent of their procurement budget with smaller firms in their area in 2015/16.

There are 348,000 SMEs operating in Scotland – accounting for 99.3% of all businesses and providing an estimated 1.2 million jobs.

The data shows there’s variation across councils in relation to procurement spend – with West Dunbartonshire council delivering just 5.8 per cent of their budget with local firms. At the other end of the spectrum, Shetland Islands council uses more than half (53.6%) of its spending power boosting the local economy.

FSB says it understands why smaller councils are likely to have lower levels of local procurement. But it highlights that all of Scotland’s city councils, with the exception of Aberdeen, spend less than one pound in four with local SMEs - with Glasgow and Dundee falling behind the national average.
 Procurement - Spend Scotland

Andy Willox, FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said: “Council budgets are under significant pressure. That’s why it is important that they squeeze every drop of value out of their spending power by targeting it on their local economies.

“We’re calling on every Scottish council to increase their spending with local firms by two per cent per year, delivering a £600m boost to Scottish business by 2021.”
FSB’s procurement call is a key recommendation from their 2017 Scottish local government election manifesto, launched today. The group is also pressing for action on local roads and action to ensure city deals work for local economies.

Andy Willox said: “Most smaller firms have far more contact with their local authority than central government. And we know that smaller firms are key to prosperous local economies. In these uncertain times, strong partnerships between councils and their business communities are more important than ever.   

 “Our manifesto sets out practical measures councils can implement to boost their local economies and reduce demands on council services.”


Incubators and accelerators: An updated directory for the UK

Nesta has a long-standing interest in understanding startup support, including methods of incubation and acceleration. 

Today, we publish a new study, commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and produced by Nesta with support from the UK Science Parks Association (UKSPA) and Synoptica, an artificial intelligence data provider, which maps the landscape of incubators and accelerators in the UK, identifying where they are located and what sectors they cover. 

At the same time, we are also publishing a new directory of incubators and accelerators in the UK. This directory is, we believe, the most comprehensive of its kind for the UK and we hope that it will be a useful tool for both entrepreneurs searching for programmes and facilities to which they can apply, as well as to researchers.

Key findings

  • We identified 205 incubators and 163 accelerators currently active in the UK, considerably more than previously estimated.
  • We estimate that these incubators and accelerators support around 3,450 and 3,660 new businesses per year, respectively, and therefore represent an important component of the startup ecosystem.
  • We estimate that financial support provided by accelerators equates to around £33 million of investment into startups per year.
  • We find that the previous view of accelerators as 'feeder programmes' for incubators no longer hold true: in our study, accelerators reported catering to a similar profile of business stages as incubators, suggesting that accelerators are best seen as alternatives to incubators rather than precursors.
  • We found that the business model of accelerators has also changed: in our Startup Factories report, our definition included the fact that accelerators typically take equity, but we now find that this is much less common than previously reported.
  • We find that corporate-funded programmes are now in the majority, with 51% of programmes receiving finance from this source. Furthermore, this trend for corporate funded accelerators appears to be growing very rapidly. VC funds now account for a small proportion of accelerators.
  • Accelerators are generally less reliant on public funding than incubators, often being financed instead by corporates. All incubators in the North East, along with more than 35% in Wales, Scotland and the West Midlands are entirely public / university funded.
  • While incubators are spread relatively evenly around the UK, more than half of accelerators are currently based in London. However, there appears to be a growing trend of accelerators being set up in other startup hubs such as Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge and Manchester.
  • Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have a greater concentration of both incubators and accelerators, relative to the number of new businesses, than most other regions.
  • There is a low number of incubators and accelerators, relative to the number of new businesses, in the real estate and retail sectors, as well as in construction.

Accelerators and incubators continue to grow and develop. This report and accompanying dataset illustrates how these startup support organisations are changing rapidly.  
One consequence of the changing space is that our previous definitions may need updating - especially concerning the matter of equity taken. 

In relation to geography, the concentration of accelerators in London is not entirely surprising - this is where many companies are headquartered, and where the UK's VC industry is based - but in Nesta's view it risks further exacerbating regional inequalities, and may drive a relocation of (digital) talent towards the capital, hindering the development of clusters elsewhere. This is particularly true given that, in our view, many programmes actually have a limited catchment area - that is, programmes which are in principle open to applicants from across the UK may in practice be relatively local. For this reason, the trend towards new accelerators being launched outside London is welcome, in Nesta's view.

We also note that some Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) seem to contain neither an accelerator nor an incubator. Whether or not this is a problem is unclear - it is possible, for instance, that they are adequately served by neighbouring LEPs - but this may warrant examination.
In relation to growth, the current growth rate of accelerators shows no sign of slowing. We estimate that accelerators already support approximately the same number of firms as incubators - although the type of support offered can vary considerably. If the current rate of growth is maintained, we estaimate that there will be more accelerators than incubators in the UK within the next 18 months or so. 

Given this rate of increase, a number of questions emerge. Is this rate sustainable, or are we in an 'accelerator bubble'? Are corporates gaining value from accelerators, or are they simply mimicking competitors? Do some regions of the UK have too many support programmes, or will their presence help stimulate further demand for their services? Do we need a new umbrella organisation to replace the defunct UKBI? Is public money needed to drive more support in certain areas?

This report does not answer these questions, but it does provide a dataset on which to build. The full dataset can be downloaded from the website and we encourage others to interrogate the data further.

If you are involved with an accelerator or incubator and you would like to add or amend some information in the directory, please email Any additions or amendments that Nesta receives until the 12th of June 2017 will be added to the directory. Please note: the report will not be updated.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Scottish business confidence 'rises for first time in two years'

BBC (13/4/2017) – Scottish business confidence has risen for the first time in almost two years, according to a survey.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found confidence improved slightly in the first quarter of 2017, but remained in negative territory.

That contrasted with the UK as a whole, where more firms were optimistic rather than pessimistic about their prospects.

More than 300 Scottish firms responded to the survey, which took place between 30 January and 17 February.

The study suggested that employment growth was flat for small businesses during the quarter.

While some companies expected an increase in staffing levels over the next three months, hiring intentions were still much lower in Scotland than the UK average.

The survey also suggested that revenues for Scottish small businesses declined during the quarter at the fastest rate for four years.

However, a majority of Scottish firms said they expected sales and turnover to grow over the course of this year.

The state of the domestic economy was highlighted as the largest barrier to growth by almost half of respondents.

Four in 10 firms cited consumer demand as a brake on growth, while a quarter blamed skills shortages and an increasing number of firms raised concerns about rising costs for inputs, fuel and utilities.

FSB said the statistics suggested Scottish economic growth would remain below trend in the near future.

Andy Willox, FSB's Scottish policy convener, said: "Scottish business confidence couldn't fall much further at the end of 2016.

"A bounce at the start of this year is welcome, but looks like it will be tricky to sustain given that firms are reporting falling revenues.

"Too few Scottish businesses have faith that our economy is travelling in the right direction.

"The UK government needs to convince firms that their plans for Brexit will safeguard their interests.

"The Scottish government and our local councils also need to put local growth at the top of their agenda."

Source: BBC News

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Action plan launched to boost Scotland’s social enterprise sector

Scottish Government – A scheme to encourage the launch of new companies that benefit and involve communities has seen annual funding double to £1 million for each of the next three years.

The Social Entrepreneurs Fund offers grants and business support to help people make their ‘social start-up’ aspirations a reality. Increased backing for the fund is just one of 92 commitments made in the 2017-2020 Social Enterprise Action Plan.

The plan follows publication of Scotland’s first-ever Social Enterprise Strategy, aimed at sustainably growing the sector over the next decade. Already, Scotland has more than 5,000 social enterprises – business that reinvest profits to address important issues like homelessness, unemployment or climate change – with 200 new enterprises starting up every year.

Other commitments in the action plan include:

  • £1.2 million for Just Enterprise, a business support programme providing workshops in finance, sales, market research and e-commerce
  • Bringing the international Buy Social certification scheme to Scotland, making it easier for consumers to know the social impact of buying certain products or services
  • Expanding the use of Community Share schemes  – an innovative way for communities to raise capital for new local social enterprises
  • Providing social enterprise learning in every school through the Enterprising Schools programme, inspiring the next generation of social entrepreneurs
Equalities Secretary Angela Constance announced the action plan on a visit to the Milk Café in Govanhill – launched in 2015 with £3,900 seed capital from the Social Entrepreneurs Fund. The café provides employment, training and support for ethnic minority women in Glasgow.

Ms Constance said:

“Scotland’s social enterprises are all about empowering communities and being a catalyst for change.  They also employ more than 100,000 people and contribute around £1.86 billion to our economy each year, so they make a significant economic contribution as well.

“We are already recognised as a social enterprise world-leader, backed by Scottish Government support in 2016/17 of around £6.5 million, however I am determined we do more. That is why we have set out a three-year action plan, including doubling the Social Entrepreneurs Fund, helping encourage the next phase of social enterprise innovators.

“Businesses like the Milk Café – offering a safe space for ethnic minority women to gain work experience, improve their English skills and integrate locally – show the huge difference a social enterprise can make in their local community.”
The Social Entrepreneur Fund is administered by Firstport, Scotland’s development agency for social start-ups. Firstport chief executive Karen McGregor added:

“Social entrepreneurship has a proven ability to tackle problems and transform lives and communities. Firstport supports an average of three people a day to take their first steps into social enterprise and has invested in over 800 social entrepeneurs.

“We are delighted that the Scottish Government is doubling its investment in the Social Entrepreneurs Fund, which combined with Firstport’s free business advice and resources, will enable us to boost the number of social enterprises throughout Scotland even further.”

In a joint statement, Pauline Graham, CEO of Social Firms Scotland, Aidan Pia, executive director of Senscot, and Fraser Kelly, chief executive of Social Enterprise Scotland, said:

“Scotland is driving forward an ambitious strategy for social enterprise growth and development. We believe that the new ten year strategy should be backed up by strong, practical action on the ground. We therefore warmly welcome the launch of the first action plan to take this process forward.

“Our social enterprise community, stretching across every part of urban and rural Scotland, is ambitious and ready to increase its contribution to Scottish society. We now have a clear plan for the growth and development of social enterprise in Scotland over the next decade.”


Thursday, 6 April 2017

International lessons on green transition from Nordic regions

Nordregio - Promoting green transition and building greener economies is currently high on the policy agenda in the Nordic countries. But how can we make it happen in practice? 

To answer this question, Nordregio went directly to those working with green growth at the regional level. Nordregio is a leading Nordic and European research centre for regional development and planning, established by the Nordic Council of Ministers. 

We asked them about the main challenges that impede green growth in Nordic regions, and sought their ideas about potential ways to overcome these challenges and drive the green transition forward. 

These responses were then combined with the findings from a national policy review to inform a detailed analysis of the state of play, practices and needs of Nordic regions with respect to promoting green growth. This policy brief presents the findings of this analysis along with recommendations designed to support regional policy makers in their work towards a greener economy.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Scottish investment fund opens in the US

Scottish Enterprise (4/4/2017) – Edinburgh based venture capital firm Par Equity is to open its first US office in San Francisco, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed today.

Par Equity facilitates investment into smaller companies with high growth potential and has launched a $125 million fund, focussed on health technology, for which it will be seeking transatlantic investment.

The firm, which was founded in 2008, will support Scottish companies to expand into the US while meeting the current demand to bring US companies to Scotland.
The USA is Scotland’s top source of inward investment, accounting for 36% of inward investment projects and is Scotland’s second largest export partner - worth £4.56 billion a year, making up 15.9% of all international exports.

The First Minister met representatives from Par Equity at Stanford University ahead of making a speech on Scotland’s place in the world.

Welcoming the announcement, she said: “Scotland’s performance in the science and technology sector continues to grow and this announcement is testament to its success both at home and abroad.
“The Par Equity Fund will be the first Scottish venture capital firm to be fully regulated in both the UK and the US and I hope this will be the first of many success stories in our health technology sector.”

William Guilfoyle, Managing Director of Par Equity, USA said: “We are excited for the opportunity to work with Scotland’s international leadership team in facilitating medical technology investment across the US and UK, which will promote strong growth while enhancing the lives of both Scottish and U.S. citizens.” 

Dr Lena Wilson, Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise, said “We have co-invested with Par Equity in some of Scotland’s most exciting and ambitious early stage growth companies and today’s announcement will open up new opportunities for many of them, as well as their peers in the US. 

This will also help cement Scotland’s growing reputation for its health technologies and as a great place for globally-minded companies to locate and grow.”

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

IED Manchester Conference, 10th May 2017 – Early bird booking open!

The major economic development event of the year is coming to Manchester this spring.

Taking place on 10th May 2017 at the Lowry Hotel, Manchester, the event will be bringing together economic development, regeneration and business leaders from across the UK to discuss how to achieve true economic development and create an enabling environment for sustainable economic growth.     

What's in store?

Get the latest insights from policy makers, economic development experts and thought leaders, and explore what the new mayors and devolution deals mean for economic development in the North.

Discuss and debate how sustainable and inclusive growth can be achieved, and how we can bridge the North-South divide.

Hear strategic growth ideas balanced with practical examples of innovative approaches to economic development and delivering the growth agenda NOW.

Network with economic development and regeneration professionals from the Northern region and beyond.

To book your place please visit the conference website here. If you book by the 7th April,  you will benefit from a discounted delegate rate.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Scottish Government's Lead on Brexit Trade Issues Joins Expert Lineup for Workshop on Export Advice and Support

George Burgess, the Scottish Government's Deputy Director of Food, Drink and Trade, is to speak at a day workshop tailored for professionals who advise on and support the global aspirations of businesses and organisations in Scotland.

Delivered by EDAS and SDI on Friday 31st March in Edinburgh, the workshop will also hear expert advice and case studies from senior speakers presenting Scottish Development International, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses, Scottish Local Authorities Economic Development Group, Heriot Watt University, Lanarkshire Enterprise Services Ltd, Cultural Enterprise Office and the CEIS Group. You can read the full programme or RSVP here.

Mr Burgess will speak on Scotland's Internationalisation Strategy, particularly in the context of changing circumstances following the Brexit vote. The internationalisation expert is leading on trade issues for the Scottish Government following the Brexit vote, as well as food and drink policy, such as Good Food Nation, industry growth, grants and livestock policy.

With Scotland's exports rising by £1bn from 2014 - 2015, maintaining this trend is a key priority for the Scottish economy. This full-day learning workshop will provide the latest information on strategies, service and product provision, growth sectors, and good practice case studies. We will also discuss global networks and, based on EDAS' Route Map work, look at the importance of engendering an international outlook and culture as a backdrop to successful internationalisation in Scotland.

Importantly, there will be ample time for informal catch up with our speakers and colleagues from across the public, private and third sectors - giving you a chance to learn, share expertise, exchange views and raise questions about developments and news with peers from around the country.

Full event information can be viewed below.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

FAI Report: Scotland’s Economy Continues to Recover – But Uncertainty Will Act as Brake on Growth

FAI - Recovery in the Scottish economy is forecast to continue this year but will remain weak with little hope of a sharp increase in growth, according to a new report published today by Scotland’s leading independent economic research institute.  To read the full report please click here.

The commentary, provided quarterly by the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute, suggests growth in Scotland is forecast to remain fragile over the next few years as the downturn in the North Sea continues to bite and weak levels of consumer confidence put a curb on spending. The report finds:

  • The Institute’s new central forecasts are for economic growth of 1.2% in 2017, 1.3% in 2018 and 1.4% in 2019 – broadly unchanged since December’s forecasts.
  • The downturn in the North Sea – alongside lower levels of overall confidence in the economy – suggest that the Scottish economy will continue to lag behind the UK as a whole.
  • Over the 10 years since the start of the financial crisis, the Scottish economy has grown by an average of just 0.7% each year – less than a third of its long-term trend. It is no surprise therefore, that whilst unemployment rates remain close to record lows, the incomes of most households continue to be squeezed.
  • Getting the economy moving again must be a key priority for policymakers from all political parties.
Strathclyde’s academics believe unprecedented levels of policy uncertainty will act as their own headwind on growth.  Yet, with so little clarity over the end outcomes, many businesses appear to be 

‘looking through the uncertainty’ and continue to press ahead with day-to-day activities. Indeed, a number of recent business surveys point to a modest pick-up in activity toward the end of 2016 and into 2017.

The Scottish labour market continues to hold up relatively well the report finds. Employment is close to its record high whilst the current unemployment rate of 4.7% is well below its long-run average. However, with rising inactivity, weak earnings growth and reduced hours worked, the squeeze on households remains challenging.

The prospects of a second independence referendum are likely to dominate debate for the foreseeable future. Whilst the key issues are clear, the arguments this time are likely to be different. For example
  • Firstly, in 2014 there was a clear choice between a stable ‘status quo’ – albeit with more devolved powers – and independence. With Brexit and Indyref2, the debate will be set against the backdrop of two types of inevitable economic change.
  • Secondly, it is undoubtedly the case that the recent performance of North Sea oil and gas poses a challenge to any transition to independence. For example, the sharp fall in oil prices has all but eliminated North Sea tax revenues.
  • Thirdly, many of those on the ‘yes’ side in 2014 argued that there would be a degree of continuity between the then status quo and independence; e.g. plans to keep sterling, joint regulation of banks and for both to be members of the EU. This time, the Scottish Government appear open to more radical ideas on issues such as currency, financial regulation and fiscal policy.