The much-anticipated Annual Scottish Business Address brought together Scotland’s biggest influencers and innovators from business, politics, media and civic Scotland.

Sponsored by Heathrow Airport and CGI, the annual celebration showcased the best of Scottish business and the achievements of the Scottish Chamber Network. The evening featured an excellent array of speakers including Tim Allan, President, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Nikhil Rathi, Chief Executive, London Stock Exchange plc.

Tim Allan urged government, business and civic society to establish a common purpose to tackle the big challenges facing Scotland’s economy. The challenging environment – politically, economically and culturally – points to an increasing need to collaborate and implement long-term solutions. He pledged that Scottish Chambers of Commerce will provide business leadership on the critical economic issues that are holding back growth in Scotland’s economy and present business-led solutions to decision and policy makers.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon delivered her annual speech at the event and highlighted the important role of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Network in shaping policy and providing real-time business intelligence to politicians. The First Minister focused on the critical work of the Chamber Network in promoting Scottish business overseas and building business-to-business links in growth markets. As part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to internationalisation, the First Minister announced investment of £2 million into the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Network to provide vital business-to-business support to Scottish companies and encourage more businesses to export.

Welcoming the funding on the night of the event, Tim Allan commended the Scottish Government for their commitment in boosting overseas trade. The unique Scottish model, developed by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Network, has reimagined and reshaped how we go about increasing our exporting performance, and the additional funding will galvanise the expertise and connectivity of the business community and deliver even more impact for business communities across Scotland.

The after-dinner Keynote Speaker, Nikhil Rathi, Chief Executive of London Stock Exchange plc (LSE) took to the stage in his first speech to the Scottish business audience. Nikhil paid tribute to the special relationship between Scottish Chambers of Commerce and the London Stock Exchange, and highlighted the important historical links between the London Stock Exchange and Scotland. Nikhil shared his immense insight into global business trends and international trade opportunities for Scottish entrepreneurs and firms, and committed to playing an even more active role in Scotland to support business growth. Commending the important work of the Chambers of Commerce in growing business links in markets such as China, he highlighted the practical steps taken by the London Stock Exchange to work more closely with growth markets. LSE’s business initiatives including the London-Shanghai Stock Connect give UK businesses direct access to Chinese markets and substantially increase the flow of trading between China and the UK. Closer to home, Nikhil praised the ambition and innovation of Scottish companies and referenced the innovative work of SecuriGroup and Dow Waste Management and commended the growth performance of companies participating in LSE’s business initiatives, AIM and Elite.

Closing the evening, Dr. Liz Cameron OBE, Director & Chief Executive of SCC, called on businesses to embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and urged the critical need to continue the collaboration between business, government and civic Scotland.