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Supporting Innovation

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of Ivan McKee Ivan McKee Scottish National Party

I do not have enough time.

Only last week, the University of St Andrews was named by

The Times as the UK university of the year.

All of that underpins our success in attracting investment from outside Scotland. We benefit enormously from participation in the European Union’s horizon 2020 programme, winning almost €650 million for Scottish universities, research institutes and businesses. We are winning more funding from UK Research and Innovation and Innovate UK for major joint projects between academia and industry such as the ORCA Hub at Heriot-Watt University, which is the world’s largest centre for research into offshore robotics technology, and the Glasgow-based Industrial Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research in Digital Diagnostics, or iCAIRD.

We have four Scottish bids in the final stage of the strength in places fund in open banking, precision medicine, industrial biotechnology, and photonics and quantum technologies, which are all technologies in which Scotland enjoys genuinely world-class capabilities.

Although it is vital to keep investing in the development of new products and processes, their value can truly be realised only if they are adopted and commercialised to create value for businesses and the wider economy. Only by focusing on the outcomes of our innovation investment will we achieve our goals. Increasingly, that is where our attention must be. My task as Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation is to ensure that we are investing in the right types of support and in projects that will draw investment into the Scottish economy.

Meanwhile, the endless uncertainty and confusion caused by the UK Government’s handling of Brexit is casting a long shadow over Scotland’s economy. As I stand here, we are three weeks away from crashing out of the European Union with no clear idea of what might be next, other than possibly the creation of two Irish borders where none existed previously. That uncertainty is clearly bad for business.

The Scottish Government is clear. The message to our European and other international friends is that Scotland will do everything in its power to stay open for business, and that includes pan-European research and innovation collaboration.

Business innovation is of central importance to the Scottish economy. The Scottish Government is determined to further strengthen our innovation ecosystem, to continue to benefit from increasing levels of business R and D investment, to support our thriving and innovative businesses to provide quality jobs and fair work, and to ensure that Scotland enjoys a globally competitive, entrepreneurial, inclusive and sustainable economy.

I move,

That the Parliament acknowledges that business innovation is of central importance to the Scottish economy; notes the Scottish Government’s initiatives to ensure that Scotland is a globally competitive, entrepreneurial, inclusive and sustainable economy with thriving and innovative businesses with quality jobs and fair work for everyone, and recognises the increasing levels of business investment in R&D, the increased number of businesses collaborating within supply chains and an increase in R&D jobs as a percentage of total employment, all of which contribute towards a sustainable, inclusive future for the people of Scotland.