Two weeks ago, the chancellor announced additional spending in the rest of the UK, which will create hundreds of millions of Barnett consequentials for education in Scotland, which dwarfs the spending from horizon.
In hearing evidence that the university innovation fund has been cut, the committee recommended that the Scottish Government increase it, and I look forward to the minister’s response to that in his closing remarks.
The negative impact of the increasing skills gap was raised by Jamie Halcro Johnston and Alex Rowley. That is a particular problem in the innovative digital sector, because only 9 per cent of businesses in Scotland use digital, compared to 43 per cent in other countries. That lack of digital penetration in the economy will act as a major drag on innovation activity going forward. That is why we have been calling for the establishment of a dedicated institute of e-commerce—a specialised agency that will help firms capitalise on developments in technology and e-commerce.
The final issue that I want to raise is the need for a coherent policy framework to promote innovation, a point that Brian Whittle highlighted, and something that the Scottish Council for Development and Industry called for in relation to the Scottish Government actively participating in the UK industrial strategy.
For Scotland to deliver real potential as a global leader in innovation, this Government needs to change direction on economic policy to create an economic environment in which innovation and business can truly flourish.