Three Scottish innovation centres have missed out on the latest round of £8 million in government funding, according to details of a new financial package.
Four out of the seven innovation centres will receive up to £2 million each per year from the government agency, Scottish Funding Council, over the course of the next 10 years.
The announcement follows an assessment process informed by independent evaluation of the national innovation centre (IC) programme – established by SFC in 2013.
The centres receiving funding are:
- Built Environment – Smarter Transformation (BE-ST) Innovation Centre
- Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC)
- Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre
- The Data Lab
They are being funded as ‘long-term, infrastructure projects’, according to SFC.
The Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre, CENSIS and the Precision Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre will no longer be funded as long-term, infrastructure projects.
They will, however, be supported through SFC’s funding of universities and colleges and the ‘development of bespoke transition plans to ensure their value and impact are not lost’, according to SFC. SFC added that it was ‘always intended the funding model would change over time as the programme matured’, resulting in the current four recipients being selected based on their alignment with government policy priorities.
An SFC spokesman said they were working with the three innovation centres on the detail of the new funding model and that they were “actively seeking other sources of funding, including from the private sector”. The intention is that they continue “in both their operations and impact”.
SFC has invested £155m in 10 years in the programme to date, including an eighth centre for which funding did not continue into phase 2.
Phase 2 included the Scottish Government and enterprise agencies as ‘other funding partners’ who collectively invested £20m. For the new phase announced today SFC has increased its investment per innovation centre to £2 million per year from 2024.
The announcement was made at the opening of the new National Retrofit Centre for Scotland at Built Environment Smarter Transformation (BE-ST) in Hamilton.
This new facility will help to revolutionise the retrofit of buildings in Scotland, through use of new technologies, materials and processes such as Passivhaus. BEST supports Scotland’s construction sector helping the industry embrace innovations like drones, robotics and exo skeletons.
First Minister Humza Yousaf said: “Innovation and collaboration are at the heart of our work to grow our economy and that is why I am delighted to announce funding of up to £8m per year for the SFC’s new investment plan for the Innovation Centres.
“This is a long-term commitment that will deliver greater stability and allow them to sustain and deepen their impact.
“The centres allow businesses and organisations to innovate by working with the best from academia to develop new products and processes. This will drive positive societal impact and economic prosperity across the country.”
However Murdo Fraser MSP, shadow secretary for business, economic growth and tourism, described the new funding package as a ‘cut’.
He said: “It speaks volumes about the gap between SNP rhetoric and delivery – to say nothing of their sheer brass neck – to trumpet spending on innovation centres, when they are actually cutting funding to three out of the seven.
“The only accurate bit of this press release is that innovation will be crucial for Scotland’s economic growth. But judging by the SNP’s actions, rather than this desperate PR flannel, they have no interest in listening to, let alone investing in, the needs of Scottish businesses.”
Daniel Johnson, Scottish Labour Economy spokesperson, said: “Years of low growth under the SNP has left Scots poorer and public services weaker – but instead of learning from their mistakes they are doubling down on them.
“Raiding the budgets of Innovation Centres is economically illiterate and no SNP sleight of hand can mask the damage they are doing.
“The SNP must drop the spin and make growth a priority, so we can boost wages, create jobs and build a stronger economy.”