Building Scotland’s international competitiveness

Our ambition

A reminder of our business plan

Launched in April 2015, our 2015-18 business plan set out the actions we would take to improve Scotland’s productivity and help build a globally competitive and inclusive economy.

In a shifting economic and operating environment, our focus on delivering impact remains critical.

This update outlines what we will do in 2017-2018 in line with the Government’s Programme for Scotland, and highlights wider considerations that will help shape future plans to ensure we continue to deliver the best possible impact for Scotland’s economy.

Download this business plan update for 2017-2018

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Building Scotland's international competitiveness

Read our original 2015-2018 business plan, which was published in April 2015

Our 2015-18 business plan

Competitive economy

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A mixed pace of growth

Our economics director discusses the current global economic climate.

A challenging economic environment

The global economic context for the third year of our current business plan will continue to be challenging.

Although growth of the global economy is expected to increase this year, the pace is likely to be mixed.

Factors such as the UK’s decision to leave the EU and the single market, the continued low global oil price and the impact this is having on Scotland’s oil and gas sector and supply chain, are leading to increased uncertainty for many businesses and sectors.

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Delivery priorities

Evidence to support our strategy

Increasing Scotland’s productivity is vital to growing our international competitiveness and achieving sustainable economic growth.

We know that internationally competitive companies achieve better performance and growth, and that economies which have an internationally competitive environment attract more investment and talent.

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The evidence

Our economics director discusses four key drivers of economic growth.

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Workplace innovation

It might well be the latest buzz word in the business community, but what exactly does it mean?

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More competitive businesses

Internationally competitive companies achieve better performance and growth, so we provide the right support and advice to help businesses innovate and invest

We will work with companies to develop fair and more productive business practices, encouraging diversity in the workforce by supporting high value jobs, youth employment and more women into leadership roles because companies that do these things report real benefits for their employees and for their bottom line. 

Through our workplace innovation service, sector productivity plans and the continued development of workplace practices outlined in the Scottish Business Pledge, we will encourage companies to take a sustainable approach to growing their business and improving performance.

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Building competitive strengths in specific sectors

We work in specific traditional and new emerging sectors across Scotland, as they are vital for Scotland’s future

We will work alongside companies and industries to help overcome challenges and seize opportunities resulting from Brexit. By focusing on Scotland’s key growth sectors where we have strengths and can make the most of opportunities, we will support a resilient, sustainable economy post-Brexit.

We are developing international plans that respond to emerging global growth opportunities in areas where Scotland has an innovative edge and competitive advantage - premium services and products, data, subsea engineering and fintech. The plans will detail the capabilities and infrastructure needed for Scotland to make the most of these global opportunities.

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Oil and gas innovation projects treble in value

Value increases from £15.5 million to £43 million following Scottish Enterprise funding of £15.9 million in 82 companies to deliver 111 innovation projects.

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Our step-by-step guide to exporting

Our free eLearning tool helps businesses develop the right skills and know-how to grow their business in overseas markets.

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Scotland’s international presence and success

Scotland’s presence and success internationally remains critically important to its future

Europe is an important market for Scottish companies. As the UK prepares to leave the EU, we will focus on maintaining and growing Scottish exports to Europe.

We will offer more support online, making it easier for Scottish companies to access services to start or increase sales to the EU. We will also offer more market events and visits to European countries and encourage successful exporters to share their knowledge, experience and inspiration with others.

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Scotland’s supportive business environment

We'll continue to work closely with partners to support the development of a modern, joined up Scottish economic development system to grow a strong and sustainable economy

Scotland’s supportive business environment remains a vital part of growing a strong and sustainable economy and we will continue to work closely with partners to support the development of a modern, joined up Scottish economic development system.

Working closely with public and private sector partners we will help to deliver projects that make a difference to local areas as well as the wider economy.  We will play an active part in the emerging regional partnerships across Scotland, and establish new delivery models to support ambitions for improving the economic performance of regions and local areas across Scotland.

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Making ideas a reality

From high-end Scottish food companies to off-site construction firms, seven Scottish consortia are celebrating after sharing the Collaboration Prize.

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Tracking our progress

Measuring success

Our managing director of strategy and sectors explains our comprehensive measurement framework.

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How will we measure success?

To measure how our support meets our objectives by benefiting companies, sectors and the Scottish economy, we apply a comprehensive framework.

In 2015 Scottish Enterprise set out a three year measurement framework for the period to 2018, outlining the activities and the outcomes we would track over the length of our business plan.

Broken down into annual ranges, these allow us to closely monitor progress against objectives throughout the year to make sure we are on track to achieve long term goals. Each year, the measures, along with milestones and spend, are validated and confirmed in Scottish Enterprise’s Annual Report and Accounts generally published in September.

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Our targets

The figures below illustrate the scale of our ambition for Scotland that we aim to achieve by next year. We’ll report on our progress in these areas in our annual report in late 2017. You can see a full budget breakdown in the PDF version of the 2017-2018 update.

By 2018, we will have...

  • Supported 2,400-3,000 businesses to become innovation active
  • Secured £500m-£650m of planned additional R&D investment through SE assisted projects
  • Supported £700m-£850m of additional planned turnover from innovation by supported companies
  • Supported £300m-£360m of planned efficiency improvements by supported companies
  • Supported 540,000-660,000 tonnes of planned CO2 savings from SE support and innovation led projects

Year 1

Annual breakdown

Year 1

Achieved...

  • 1101 innovation active businesses
  • £192m additional R&D investment
  • £488m additional turnover from innovation
  • £113m efficiency improvements
  • 200,796 tonnes of CO2 savings

Year 2

Annual breakdown

Year 2

Forecast...

  • 1756 innovation active businesses
  • £234m additional R&D investment
  • £256m additional turnover from innovation
  • £117m efficiency improvements
  • 204,446 tonnes CO2 savings

Year 3

Annual breakdown

Year 3

  • 800-1000 innovation active businesses
  • £200-250m additional R&D investment
  • £300-350m additional turnover from innovation
  • £110-130m efficiency improvements
  • 200,000-240,000 tonnes CO2 savings

By 2018, we will have:

  • 750-900 assisted companies becoming new or active exporters
  • 700-950 companies projecting significant export growth

Year 1

Annual breakdown

Year 1

Achieved...

  • 141 assisted companies becoming new or active exporters
  • 340 companies projecting significant export growth

Year 2

Annual breakdown

Year 2

Forecast...

  • 200 assisted companies becoming new or active exporters
  • 312 companies projecting significant export growth

Year 3

Annual breakdown

Year 3

  • 300-350 assisted companies becoming new or active exporters
  • 200-275 companies projecting significant export growth

By 2018, we will have:

  • £240-300m private investment from growth finance
  • 1350-1650 businesses with growth and export potential supported to improve financial readiness (up to 330 supported specifically to secure growth funding)
  • £450-600m capital investment

Year 1

Annual breakdown

Year 1

Achieved...

  • £277m private investment from growth finance
  • 418 businesses with growth and export potential supported to improve financial readiness (85 supported specifically to secure growth funding)
  • £156m capital investment

Year 2

Annual breakdown

Year 2

Forecast...

  • £106m private investment from growth finance
  • 452 businesses with growth and export potential supported to improve financial readiness (103 supported specifically to secure growth funding)
  • £161m capital investment

Year 3

Annual breakdown

Year 3

  • £80-100m private investment from growth finance
  • 500-600 businesses with growth and export potential supported to improve financial readiness (95-120 supported specifically to secure growth funding)
  • £150-200m capital investment


By 2018, we will have:

  • 800-1050 companies approaching fair and progressive workplace practices
  • 22,000-28,000 jobs through inward investment (7,000-8,500 of which are HVA planned jobs)
  • 2,000-2,500 companies developing leadership
  • 550-750 entrepreneurs ready to create internationally competitive early stage ventures

Year 1

Annual breakdown

Year 1

Achieved...

  • 7,090 jobs through inward investment (2,211 of which are HVA planned jobs)
  • 686 companies developing leadership
  • 231 entrepreneurs ready to create internationally competitive early stage ventures

Year 2

Annual breakdown

Year 2

Forecast...

  • 7,839 jobs through inward investment (2,312 of which are HVA planned jobs)
  • 889 companies developing leadership
  • 217 entrepreneurs ready to create internationally competitive early stage ventures

Year 3

Annual breakdown

Year 3

  • 800-1050 companies approaching fair and progressive workplace practices
  • 7,750-9,750 jobs through inward investment (2,750-3,250 of which are HVA planned jobs)
  • 725-1000 companies developing leadership
  • 240-330 entrepreneurs ready to create internationally competitive early stage ventures

Milestones for 2017-18

Our quarterly ‘milestones’ targets for 2017-18 represent significant achievements that will contribute to the delivery of our plan.

Quarter 1

By end of June 2017

Quarter 1
  • Establish a fully digitised grants application and claims process prototype as the first phase of our digital transformation programme of service delivery to customers
Quarter 2

By end of September 2017

Quarter 2
  • Support growth of the Fintech sector with the launch of an industry-led action plan in partnership with Scottish Financial Enterprise
  • Introduce an enhanced service to increase the number and help accelerate the speed of scale up of high potential companies
  • Promote the leadership development of women in businesses in Scotland through the new Principally Women pilot programme
  • Support Scottish companies to access international risk capital and attract international risk capital investment to Scotland by establishing a new programme through Scotland House, in London
Quarter 3

By end of December 2017

Quarter 3
  • Establish a fund to connect public sector organisations to SMEs to solve challenges that will make public services better, faster and more accessible
  • Boost inward investment through delivery of a joint strategy with VisitScotland to promote Scotland as a place to visit, work, live and study and establishing a new approach and programme to attract investors to Scotland
  • Help more companies to exploit the opportunities of data to innovate and launch new products, services and processes through a Business Data Advisory Service and a Data Leadership programme
  • Establish a new programme to support fintech innovation in Scotland’s Financial Services sector
  • Support the Manufacturing Action Plan through the launch of a programme to develop and grow Scotland’s supply chain capabilities
  • Open the Innovation and Investment Hubs in Berlin and Brussels to support Scotland’s Trade & Investment Strategy and our response to Brexit
Quarter 4

By end of March 2018

Quarter 4
  • Double SDI’s presence in Europe to support Scotland’s Trade and Investment Strategy and our response to Brexit
  • Deliver a marketing campaign in the key markets of London and California to promote Scotland as a global centre for data skills and innovation to attract inward investment and to support the internationalisation of Scotland’s Technology Sectors
  • Assist more companies to access appropriate growth funding by launching a digital approach to improve financial readiness, and introduce programmes to assist companies to be Exit Ready and to recruit Non Executive Directors
  • Launch a programme to support subsea engineering companies to access international market opportunities
  • Complete the construction of a new commercial building at the Edinburgh BioQuarter to continue the growth of Scotland’s healthcare and life sciences community
  • Support the growth of the social enterprise sector in Scotland by delivering a series of Knowledge Exchange events to build sector capacity, and a Masterclass Programme to stimulate social enterprise innovation

Latest business plan update

Download and print a PDF version of this business plan update.

Business plan update 2017-18

Want to find out more?

Discover more about what we do and how we work.

We offer a range of services to ambitious Scottish businesses, as well as investing in strategic projects across the country to help boost Scotland's economy.

Read more about Scottish Enterprise

Download the original 2015-2018 business plan

Download the 2016-2017 update

If you'd like to discuss any element of our business, get in touch