Freedom of Information releases

Companies involved in the arms trade

Companies involved in the arms trade: FOI release (reference 4829)

Date received

27 August 2020

Date responded

21 September 2020

Information requested

Why does Scottish Enterprise give almost £20 million to an arms company that makes over £400 million profit. Does Scottish Enterprise help fund arms companies that sponsor arms trade events? Is Scottish Enterprise concerned with the ethical and humanitarian responsibilities with helping fund companies involved in the arms trade?


Scottish Enterprise works to support businesses of all shapes and sizes in various industries to create jobs and economic growth for Scotland. This includes businesses within the of Aerospace, Defence, Marine and Security sectors. It is important to stress that we do not fund munitions, and do not recognise the terminology ‘arms’ trade.

In 2016 Scottish Enterprise published its Aerospace, Defence, Marine and Security Industrial Strategy for Scotland – the ministerial foreword by Fergus Ewing MSP noted that “such businesses contribute significantly to the Scottish economy through above average R&D expenditure, strong export performance and the creation of highly-skilled and well-paid jobs.. this strategy recognises the long-term value of attracting and retaining large companies to the sector in Scotland and the beneficial effect on smaller businesses throughout the country who are ambitious to supply them.”

Scottish Enterprise’s work with these sectors is predominantly focused on supporting companies to diversify and bring innovative technologies to market. Our work with defence companies enables diversification, heavily focusing on non-military and civilian applications, such as new products that assist the emergency services.

Decisions to support companies are based on the economic potential of proposed projects, not on how profitable they are. All projects have legally binding contracts and we work closely with the companies to ensure the projects we part-fund are monitored and delivered in line with the economic and social impacts agreed. Scottish Enterprise also undertake rigorous human rights due diligence, which is conducted prior to any support being awarded.

This due diligence approach is based on independent evidence from authoritative sources like the World Bank and the OECD. Should our investigations raise human rights concerns then any support could be declined.

Contact us

For further information contact our communications team, quoting the FOI reference number.