Work has been undertaken to develop and design the Scottish growth scheme, working with financial institutions and our enterprise agencies. Currently, there are two distinct products under the scheme: the £200 million Scottish-European growth co-investment programme, which was launched on 16 June and is aimed at companies seeking equity investment of £2 million or above; and the new and additional funding to the small and medium-sized enterprises holding fund to support equity funding up to £2 million. Work is progressing with a number of companies seeking to access investment support under the European programme. At this stage, six companies have been referred to the European Investment Fund to be considered for investment from EIF-accredited venture capital fund managers, with five engaging in direct discussions with investors.
When the scheme was launched more than a year ago, we were told that support would be largely
“in the form of guarantees and loans”—[
, 7 September 2016; c 32.]
However, no loans or guarantees have been paid out. Why should businesses have any confidence in the scheme if, 14 months after it was announced, it is still not doing what it said on the tin?
I must correct Liam McArthur: the announcement in the programme for government described what we were launching, which was launched earlier this year. There has been engagement with European opportunities, and there has also been specific engagement with banks, partly around the guarantee element to ensure that we get the right products. There is a £500 million commitment over the three-year period, and I am convinced that we will fulfil our commitment to doing this in a fashion that best supports economic growth through a range of tools at our disposal. We will continue to design this in such a way that, in the fullness of time, it gives businesses the support that they say to us they need.