The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) welcomes the unanimous decision by the Scottish Parliament to pass the Scottish National Investment Bank Bill. The Bank aims to address the need for greater long-term investment in small to medium size enterprises (SMEs) in Scotland and to improve Scotland’s relative innovation performance which lags behind comparator countries. The development of the Bank has been a prominent area of activity for the RSE Economy and Enterprise Committee, which brings together experience and expertise across academia, business and the public sector to consider ways in which the Scottish economy can be enhanced. This has included extensive engagement on the Bank proposals with government officials, parliamentary committees and MSPs.
The next step in establishing the Bank will be the development of its Strategic Framework. This will act as the main instrument governing the relationship between Scottish Ministers and the Bank. It will also provide information on the Bank’s plans and strategies and the financial parameters and obligations under which it will operate. The RSE will continue to contribute to the establishment of the Bank, including the development of the Strategic Framework. In the course of informing the development of the Bank, the RSE has made the following key points:
- The Bank will adopt a mission-oriented approach. We have suggested a phased development, starting with one mission. This will help focus the funding available and enable the Scottish Government to monitor and evaluate mission-oriented funding, developing experience over time. We agree that the transition to a net zero emissions target would be a crucial primary mission for the Bank.
- An early aim of the Bank should be to provide advice and raise awareness of capital availability, both its own and from other sources, to businesses to stimulate demand. This will be crucial to fulfilling its objective of stimulating business investment and enhancing productivity.
- The Bank’s governance arrangements will be determined by the forthcoming Strategic Framework. It is critical that this makes clear: how operational independence of the Bank will be secured; how the Bank will complement and align with the Enterprise and Skills Agencies; and the role of the proposed external advisory group.
Our previous responses can be found here:
- RSE response to the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee (2019)
- RSE response to Scottish Government (2018)
- RSE response to Scottish Government (2017)