Scottish R&D projects net �685m in government support

Government support in 2014/15 for commercial innovation and research projects will net Scottish companies an additional £658m in revenue cumulatively over the next three years, according to Scottish Enterprise (SE).

The publicly funded body, which aims to promote R&D in the private sector, said this figure had more than doubled from the previous year, demonstrating progress in encouraging more companies to take innovative approaches.

SE noted a number of positive results from 2014/15 including:

  • £149m of additional commitments in R&D investment secured through SE assisted projects
  • 350 new companies received SE innovation funding with additional support from local authorities, Business Gateway, Interface, and UK IPO
  • Around 35 companies participated in SE’s Deeper Engagement programme, targeting established innovators to help them benchmark their performance against European competitors

Companies that have benefited from SE funding include the Falkirk-based bus and coach manufacturer Alexander Dennis and the Selkirk-based Spark Energy.

Alexander Dennis used its additional backing to help produce the Enviro400 single and double-decker bus models, which have since captured 50 per cent of the UK market.

SE also supported the development of the Enviro500 double-decker for international markets and has sold 1,500 buses in less than two years into Hong Kong and other new markets in Asia.

The company has grown from an annual turnover of £170m to in excess of £500m which is attributed to ongoing investment in innovation over the last 7 years.

Spark Energy, which provides energy utilities to landlords and tenants of rented properties, was given more than £150,000 by SE to fund improvements to their customer experience.

Over the last three years the company has had annual sales growth of 97 per cent and forecasts £130m turnover in the next few years.

Commenting on the results, Jim Watson, director of innovation and enterprise for SE, said: “We know that investment in innovation and R&D leads to business growth, increased productivity, greater opportunities and a globally competitive edge, making it crucial to the long-term success of the Scottish economy.

“In fact, innovation accounts for some two-thirds of all the productivity in the economy. What is more, evidence shows that innovative companies grow nearly twice as fast in terms of sales than non-innovators, create more jobs and are more attractive to investors.

“As the world becomes closer, more connected and more competitive, companies need to do more and go further to ensure they are not left behind. At Scottish Enterprise, we believe that innovation should be more than just an ‘add-on’ or a ‘nice-to-have’ for businesses. It should be the core culture of companies that strive for growth.”

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