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Following the release of its annual review for 2013-2014, Kerry Sharp, head of our investment arm, the Scottish Investment Bank, reflects on a year of celebrating successful partnership working and looks forward to raising the profile of Scottish companies on the world stage.

Kerry Sharp, Head of the Scottish Investment Bank

Whenever I'm asked to review progress I find myself reflecting on how conducive the ecosystem in Scotland is to nurturing young companies and fostering an entrepreneurial mindset. Indeed many of the circa 250 companies in the current Scottish Investment Bank (SIB) portfolio wouldn't be where they are without our supportive and well-connected investor community.

You'll see this partnership working highlighted year and year again within our annual review, as it's the foundation of our operating model. For this year’s review I make no apology for taking the opportunity to reflect again on productive partnerships, old and new.

Last October we had the privilege of getting together with 40 of our investment partners to mark the 10th anniversary of our longest running fund, the Scottish Co-Investment Fund. By any measure the transformation of Scotland’s risk capital market in this time has been impressive. This can be quantified at one level by a steady increase in the number of Scottish angel syndicates, from just two in 2003 to over 20 today.

A year of new beginnings

While our established co-investment based equity funds continue to play a vital role in stimulating the early stage investment market in Scotland, last year was also an exciting one for our newer funds.

The Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF) made it a record year for SIB investment into renewables. £8.8 million has been committed to marine energy, innovative turbine technology, hydro and community renewables, with the potential to bring long-term economic benefits to Scotland.

Another contributor to the transition to a low carbon economy will be the Scottish Recycling Fund, which we launched last year in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland to increase finance for improving Scotland’s waste recycling capacity.

Some of Scotland’s most ambitious companies benefited from SIB investment of £3.6 million through the Scottish Loan Fund. This fund is managed by Maven Capital and is backed by a number of key funders in the Scottish market, working together to support companies that are tapping into international market opportunities and aiming for transformational growth.

Our international reach must expand if we're to show the global investment community what great prospects we have here in Scotland.

Kerry Sharp, Head of The Scottish Investment Bank

Looking ahead

The opportunities for future economic growth lie in attracting more international investment to Scotland, as well as supporting our companies in getting from the seed stage to the series B investment round and beyond. Our networks and partnerships will help us tackle this. Our international reach must expand if we're to show the global investment community what great prospects we have here in Scotland.

Our public sector partners, such as Highlands and Islands Enterprise, as well as vital support from Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise colleagues, will continue to play a crucial role in providing the support network required to get these companies onto the world stage. Funding from the European Regional Development Fund will take another prominent role in supporting our drive to achieve sustainable economic growth through investment into young companies.

Our achievements over the last year - and indeed in the 10 years since the launch of the Scottish Co-Investment Fund - puts into sharp focus the importance of working hand in hand with both private sector and public sector partners.

I do hope you will find some time to take a look back at last year’s activities and the various case studies that give a flavour of the success enjoyed by these enterprises. It's the difference we can make to companies that really matters.

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