Scottish Government Budget

– in the Scottish Parliament on 5th March 2020.

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Photo of David Torrance David Torrance Scottish National Party

8. To ask the Scottish Government which measures in the draft budget aim to boost economic growth, improve productivity and support improvements in innovation. (S5O-04219)

Photo of Ben Macpherson Ben Macpherson Scottish National Party

The Scottish budget includes a range of measures that will foster inclusive economic growth, raise productivity and improve innovation. For example, we have pledged £201 million of funding for city region and growth deals during 2020-21. There will be £220 million of fresh seed funding for the Scottish national investment bank, contributing to our commitment to invest £2 billion over 10 years, and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland will receive £26.5 million of funding.

Photo of David Torrance David Torrance Scottish National Party

The minister will be aware that Energy Park Fife in my constituency supports the renewables sector. How much investment is being made in hydrogen technology as an alternative source of fuel?

Photo of Ben Macpherson Ben Macpherson Scottish National Party

We are undertaking a wide-ranging assessment of hydrogen, its various applications and how it may contribute to achieving our ambitious target of net zero emissions by 2045, and also how it can provide social and economic value for the country. Informed by the outcomes of that assessment and other companion pieces of work, we will publish a Scottish Government hydrogen action plan in 2020. The potential contribution of hydrogen in Scotland’s transition to a low-carbon economy was further recognised in the recent Scottish budget, which committed £10 million for hydrogen for heat demonstration projects.

Photo of Alexander Burnett Alexander Burnett Conservative

How does the Scottish Government measure the return on its support for innovation centres and will centres that offer exceptional returns, such as the Data Lab, receive additional support?

Photo of Ben Macpherson Ben Macpherson Scottish National Party

We recognised in the Scottish budget that innovation improves productivity, competitiveness and growth. We will therefore continue to support business investment in research and development with a target to double the spending of £870 million that happened in 2015 to £1.7 billion in 2025, meeting our commitment to increase support for business research and development from £22 million to £37 million per annum in the three years 2018 to 2021.

The specific point that the member raised would be better directed to the Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation. I encourage Alexander Burnett to take it up with the minister directly.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

That concludes portfolio questions on finance. There will be a short pause before we move on.