Scotland’s national economic development agency has reported a 60 per cent increase in spending – having invested a whopping £568 million in businesses since Covid struck.

This record level of Scottish Enterprise funding for the year 2020-21 is up from £355m spent in 2019-20.

During the public health crisis the agency helped to drive innovation and investment in key assets to develop companies’ resilience and expand their at-home and overseas markets.

And in response to the impact of the pandemic on global travel, the government body pivoted its support for exporters in Scotland, maximising digital channels to their full effect and delivering more than 100 trade events to almost 5,000 individuals.  

Digitising export support was “critical” to help identify and support future trade international opportunities. As a result, companies were able to forecast international export sales in excess of £1 billion.

Projects supported by Scottish Enterprise included entrepreneurship, adopting new ways of working including using digital, research and development, significant inward investments and early-stage company equity investments.

To help Scotland achieve its net zero aspirations, a high proportion of investment went to projects that will advance the country’s low carbon economic transformation.

At the outset of the pandemic, Scottish Enterprise designed, developed and rolled out emergency Covid funds resulting in £220 million of grants providing a critical life-line to 4,000 business to help safeguard more than 70,000 jobs.

The team also played a key role in providing Covid business advice and guidance via the ‘find business support in Scotland’ online portal and coordinated more than 1,600 offers of industry support to quickly accelerate and scale up Scottish manufacturing of PPE supplies and laboratory equipment to help meet the immediate PPE challenge.

Moreover, Scottish Enterprise’s “unprecedented” level of funding resulted in more than £1 billion additional planned private sector investment that secured almost 7,000 planned ‘real living wage’ jobs for communities across Scotland.

Linda Hanna. Supplied/Scottish Enterprise

Linda Hanna, Scottish Enterprise interim chief executive, said: “Scottish Enterprise is determined to play a key role in supporting Scotland’s economic recovery and deliver a future green economy that is fair for all.  Our performance over the past year shows we are on the path to achieving that.“We are incredibly proud of these significant achievements in such an extraordinary year but none of it would have been possible without the hard work, determination and strength of Scottish Enterprise colleagues and the many businesses we had the privilege to work with.

“Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic and Brexit, Scotland was able to maintain solid levels of investment which has helped sustain and create employment for many thousands of people.  Scotland is very much open for business and we look forward to working with our communities to develop further economic opportunities throughout the year ahead.”

Hanna added: “As we fast approach the half-way point of this performance year we are seeing encouraging signs with continued appetite for investment.  We can look to the future with optimism and together with businesses, industries and our partners, Scottish Enterprise is taking action together to deliver more, better jobs and places for the future that will enable shared wealth and wellbeing.”