Scottish Enterprise support is forecast to generate over £700m in innovation expenditure – supporting 260 projects spanning multiple industries including the tech sector.

The national economic agency will generate an estimated £709.74m off approved £120m in grant funding and equity investment for innovation activities in the 2021-22 financial year.

That is calculated to deliver a further £502m innovation investment from the private sector as well as £86m from public sector partners.

A total of 260 projects are being supported, delivering an impressive array of innovations from private firms developing solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges, to new spin-outs from our world-leading universities, and vital infrastructure in the form of Scotland’s first class innovation centres.

Supported projects included:

  • Australian inward investor BigTinCan announced plans to expand its Glasgow software development centre in order to accelerate a series of R&D projects, following confirmation of a funding package from Scottish Enterprise worth £1.4m. BigTinCan specialises in developing software for use by companies’ salesforces, to help improve their customers’ experiences.
  • University of Edinburgh life sciences spin-out Kynos Therapeutics announced that it had raised £9m in growth funding, including investment from Scottish Enterprise. The company is developing a treatment to help regulate the immune system and protect patients against tissue damage caused by a mitochondrial enzyme known as KMO.
  • Scottish Enterprise announced a grant award of £2.5m to Scotch whisky maker North British Distillery. The funding will allow the company to develop and deliver a modernised distilling process, with the aim of significantly reducing its carbon footprint.
  • Scottish Enterprise also continued its funding support as a partner of Scotland’s many innovation centres, including the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics at Glasgow’s Strathclyde University, the Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) in Renfrew, the Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC) in Aberdeen, and the CENSIS centre for sensing, imaging and the internet of things (IOT) at the University of Glasgow.

Adrian Gillespie, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, said: “Scottish companies are innovating to create greater opportunities for a more prosperous future, as well as delivering solutions to global challenges in areas like climate change, advanced manufacturing and life sciences. It’s great to see a sustained appetite among our business base to continue investing in innovation despite the current headwinds, while at the same time the private and public sectors continue to invest significantly in our first-class innovation centres. These activities will ensure Scotland remains a leading innovation nation.”

Business Minster Ivan McKee said: “Through our enterprise agencies we are supporting business and industry to adopt the innovative technologies and processes that will help increase their resilience and capacity for growth.

“In Scotland, it is vital that we utilise innovation to grow the economy, create jobs and deliver on our net zero ambitions, to be one of the most innovative small nations in the world.

“This winter, we will publish a new National Innovation Strategy for Scotland, ensuring that our businesses, people and institutions are ready to meet the global economic challenges we face over the next 10 years, and grasp opportunities.”

One mechanism through which Scottish Enterprise helps companies innovate is its SMART:Scotland grant. Research by Scottish Enterprise and Young Company Finance (YCF) recently revealed the impact of SMART by taking a snapshot of the cohort from 2015/16 and tracking its progress since then, in terms of survival and further investment.

The study revealed that of the 76 SMART recipients that year, 60 companies (80%) are still trading. A total of £156.9m equity investment was raised by the cohort since the time of the grant award, with four companies raising more than £10m each. Innovate UK grants totalling £14.6m have also been awarded to 25 cohort companies since 2015, with five companies raising more than £1m each. They have also seen success at ScottishEDGE, with 11 of the cohort winning a total of £883,000. 

Further research by YCF tracked the impact of Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Spin-out Programme (HGSP) over the last 10 years. HGSP is another innovation grant mechanism, designed to help universities commercialise research projects with the potential to become companies of scale. A total of 34 companies were created in this time, spinning out from 10 universities. Of these, 29 (88%) are still trading today – a much greater percentage than expected for the high-risk start-ups sector.

Of those still trading, many have benefited from ongoing support from Scottish Enterprise including becoming part of its high growth portfolio of companies, benefitting from a range of wrap-around specialist support in areas such as product development, trading internationally and sustainability.

Since incorporation, 26 of these companies have raised £144m total equity investment, with four raising more than £10m each. Additionally, 19 secured grant funding totalling £28m – including eight grants of more than £1m. The cohort has also seen Converge Challenge success, with eight winners/runners-up from 2011 to 2020.