Scotland has a proud history of innovation and invention, it’s part of our national DNA. From James Watts’ revolutionary improvements to the steam engine, to John Logie Bairds’ pioneering development of the television, Scotland is rightly reverent of our entrepreneurial heritage.
The television remains one of the most popular sources of entertainment, and although Watt’s engines have somewhat waned in popularity, academics have recently been exploring resurrecting his design with modern improvements.
In the modern era, Scottish businesses innovate across an even broader range of activities. Businesses such as BrewDog established an inventive crowd funding model which helped propel them to compete with brewing giants, and cities such as Edinburgh are rapidly becoming leaders in the applications of FinTech and cyber security. Scottish firms continue to demonstrate that we are not running out of steam any time soon.
Whilst the UK’s exit from the European Union has thrown up some uncertainties, one clear positive has been amplified by the referendum and the subsequent negotiation process; the need for the United Kingdom and Scotland, to focus on substantially improving our exporting performance.
SCC has been working in partnership with the Scottish Government to unlock the potential of Scotland as an exporting nation. Our ambition to open up the Chinese market to more Scottish companies has been achieved through our established B2B connections. The opening up of our dedicated Scottish Trade Office in Yantai, our formal engagement in the Silk Road Business Council and our direct approach with Chinese business leaders, will turbo-charge Scotland’s exports to China. Following our recent trade visit to China, Scottish firm Premiership Experience brokered a multi-million pound deal, exemplifying the opportunity for businesses that leverage Scotland’s assets such as our culture, sporting heritage, food and drink and tourism experience.
A joined-up UK-wide approach is a critical component to the mix of selling Scotland. That’s why we welcomed the UK Government’s recently launched export strategy, which aims to increase exports as a proportion of UK GDP to 35%. We have long called for policymakers to place exporting at the heart of economic strategy, and we welcome the combination of advice and support, access to finance and digital support, as a practical way to encourage and develop more exporters. These are practical steps to be praised, and if applied with the private sector at the heart, will lead to an increase in exports, and create more jobs and resilient businesses.
Scotland is a sleeping giant in terms of exports. Sectors from technology to education, to engineering and hospitality are all world class. Together, government and the private sector working in true collaboration can usher in a new generation of exporters, which sees Scottish business take its rightful place as a world leader in exporting and innovation.
First published in the Herald,