Building Scotland’s future today

Entrepreneurship and expertise should be celebrated and encouraged.



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The pace of change and degree of uncertainty in today’s economy is staggering. In these unprecedented times, we’re seeing a shift in the definition of economic success. Throughout the world, nations are seeking not only to create wealth, but also to ensure this wealth is distributed more evenly.

As Scotland’s national economic development agency, Scottish Enterprise echoes this sentiment. We firmly believe that all growth must be inclusive, and our mission is to make a lasting and positive impact that delivers real and enduring benefits for all our people and communities. We’ve served Scotland well in recent years, securing our reputation as a location of choice for inward investors and growing exports in lucrative markets. We’ve also helped build homegrown successes in fields such as fintech and robotics.

But Scotland, along with many developed countries, still struggles with an uneven spread of economic success. Deprivation and affluence all too often sit side by side, with low employment and stunted business growth in some parts of Scotland. In fact, despite all our strengths, we’re still ranked 21st of the 36 OECD countries for income equality.

These challenges, alongside a complex global economy and the unknown impacts of Brexit, automation and an ageing population, mean that more of the same economic development will, at best, deliver more of the same outcomes – and inequalities will likely remain.

We need to take a new approach, one that taps into Scotland’s past to build a brighter future today, because we don’t just want to navigate these stormy waters, we want to emerge on the other side a thriving nation with a vibrant and fair economy.

Although small in stature, Scotland is one of the original industrial powerhouses and has always packed an impressive punch economically. We’re a nation of thinkers and innovators, with inventions and ideas that have provided the foundation for much of the modern world – from whisky, shipbuilding and penicillin,
to the television, jet engines and nano-satellites.

Our reputation is growing as a place to do business, not just because of our rich skills, talent and resources, but because we’re innovative, progressive, welcoming and dynamic. Businesses of every size – from homegrown ones to those that chose to locate here – all recognise the opportunity to be part of a growing economy that does things differently, to contribute to sustainability, equality and wellbeing, to give something back, be kind and do good. We’re proud to stand with these companies, and we need to be as entrepreneurial as the people and businesses we support.

It’s essential that we work with others – most notably our fellow enterprise and skills agencies and the business community – to build a better, fairer future for all. Together, I firmly believe we can deliver the conditions for growth, build business resilience, nurture and inspire ambition and create more, high-quality jobs to support Scottish families. We want all of Scotland’s children, and their children, to have the future they deserve – a future where every community, every family, and every individual benefits from economic success.

Steve Dunlop is chief executive at Scottish Enterprise.