Scotland’s new national innovation strategy has taken inspiration from Nordic countries including Denmark, Norway and Finland – by placing innovation at the heart of the economy.

Published on Friday, the new blueprint for economic success puts renewed focus on clustering companies together from high-growth sectors to drive growth and productivity.

The ‘alignment’ with the European leaders – which have established world-class research and development, supporting new products and services – is calibrated to support businesses to innovate and maximising targeted investment from government and industry.

Key proposals include:

  • encouraging European-style clusters of similar businesses by focusing on developing key strengths in advanced manufacturing, health and life sciences, net zero, and data and digital technologies
  • adopting a new approach to investing in innovative companies by reviewing existing public sector funds and improving signposting towards other sources of finance
  • supporting Scotland’s world class universities to become better at turning research into successful products and businesses
  • taking a new approach to monitoring Scotland’s performance and benchmarking this against similar nations

The strategy has been developed in consultation with business and academia, including a steering group chaired by Sir Jim McDonald, vice-chancellor of the University of Strathclyde.

Unveiling the strategy during a visit to the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Glasgow, Innovation Minister Richard Lochhead said: “This strategy sets out our vision to become one of the most innovative small nations in the world over the next decade. This is key to our efforts to transform the economy and drive a lasting improvement in Scotland’s economic performance.

“It also sends out a wider message – that we are determined to become a world leader in entrepreneurship and innovation. Scotland will use all the powers we have to create an economy which supports businesses to thrive. We will do this by harnessing the skills and ingenuity of our people and seizing the economic and social opportunities provided.

“Scotland is famous the world over for invention and innovation and today we have many strengths, including emerging and potentially game changing advances in areas like biotechnology and data. So we build from strong foundations.

“I am very grateful to Sir Jim and to all those from business, academia and across the public sector who contributed to the development, and will be key partners in the delivery of this strategy.”

Sir Jim said: “It has been a privilege to have co-chaired the Steering Group of entrepreneurs, industry experts, academics, business leaders and investors that has played a key role in shaping this strategy. Scotland is already home to a number of globally competitive research intensive universities and some of the most exciting and innovative companies in the world and this strategy focuses on actions required to scale, accelerate and further unleash the potential of innovation across the country.

“Countries that can show agility and harness the power of new ideas and new technologies will thrive and become magnets for talent and investment over the next decade and beyond. We must also support the development of a much more diverse and inclusive community of entrepreneurs, researchers and business leaders which in itself will create a more innovation-led ecosystem. I believe that this strategy will help Scotland regain its position as an international innovation leader.”