In August 2021, the RSE hosted a roundtable with the South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) on their consultation on the Draft Regional Economic Strategy for the South of Scotland.
The discussion report highlights the wide-ranging nature of the strategy and underscores the need for it to be aligned with, and connected to, relevant Scottish Government strategies, including the recently refreshed Digital Strategy and the Securing a Green Recovery Strategy. The level of resource available for implementing the strategy will be a crucial factor in determining if it can achieve all of its ambitions, or if greater prioritisation will be required.
The report highlights that the South of Scotland is facing a demographic crisis, which will require innovation to attract and retain talent in the region. This can be supported through improved digital and transport connectivity, and capitalising on working-from-home developments.
A strong business community exists in the South of Scotland. However, improvements to innovation and enterprise are required to help attract new people and businesses to the region, including through collaboration and investment in critical infrastructure. SOSE should continue to support businesses and entrepreneurs through initiatives such as the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal.
The region is home to a significant array of assets in natural capital, biodiversity, energy, and agriculture, which will be critical in helping Scotland to achieve net-zero. It is crucial that new renewable energy projects involve local communities within the decision-making process. The strategy needs to set out more detail on how climate adaptation and the development of a circular economy will be supported.
The RSE looks forward to continuing to develop its relationship with SOSE and engaging with the agency as it finalises its strategy and delivery plan.
Professor Andy Porter