Jobs and industry of the future

First Minister announces extra £45 million to support growth and innovation.

The First Minister has set out key actions the Scottish Government will take to boost growth, create jobs and seize the economic opportunities of the future.

Outlining her vision to see Scotland design and produce the products of the future, the First Minister highlighted the twin importance of innovation and inclusion to ensuring Scotland is in the best position to benefit from changes in the economy.

The First Minister made the announcement as she spoke at Spirit AeroSystems Europe Ltd, where she confirmed the Prestwick-based company has won a contract to produce new carbon wing components for the Airbus A320 aircraft.

With the support of £2.1 million of research and development (R&D) funding from Scottish Enterprise, Spirit were able to use advanced manufacturing technology to secure the new contract, which will create more than 100 jobs.

Recognising the importance of businesses replicating the success of companies like Spirit, the First Minister revealed plans for a 70% increase in Scottish Government funding for businesses to conduct new R&D projects, with an additional £45 million to be invested over the next three years.

In the coming weeks, the First Minister also set out key areas where the government will be making further commitments, to help Scotland capitalise on economic opportunities, including:

  • Extra help for the advanced manufacturing, energy and financial technology sectors
  • Plans to support graduate entrepreneurs
  • Support for companies to access finance
  • Plans to make Scotland an early adopter of electric and ultra-low emission vehicles

Nicola Sturgeon said:

“I am determined that Scotland leads on the key technological and social changes. I want Scotland to be the inventor and producer of the innovations that shape the future – not just a consumer of them.

“Spirit AeroSystems is an excellent example of a company providing industry-leading expertise and investing in Scotland. It is significant that research and development grant support from Scottish Enterprise has helped the business win this important new Airbus contract.

“R&D drives innovation, which in turn boosts productivity and economic growth. That is why R&D support from our enterprise agencies will increase almost 70% - from £22 million to £37 million per year. We expect this additional £45 million over three years will unlock a further £270 million R&D expenditure by companies

“We need to not only embrace technological innovations, we also must ensure that economic growth is inclusive – so that everyone benefits and has a fair chance to contribute. In the coming weeks I will set out further plans for Scotland’s economy and how we can make further progress towards achieving both of these key aims.”

Scott McLarty, Vice President and General Manager, Spirit UK and Malaysia, added:

“We are pleased that this innovative technology development brings not only improved quality and savings to our customer, but also secures an additional work stream for the UK business.

 “This opportunity leverages our technology, design and manufacturing expertise to better support the needs of our customers and significantly strengthens our ability to secure future work.”

Linda Hanna, Managing Director of Strategy & Sectors at Scottish Enterprise, added:

“I am delighted Spirit has won this key project for their Prestwick site. It's a fantastic example of how Scotland’s expertise and capability in aerospace engineering and manufacturing is successfully competing on the global stage. “Our £2.1 million of R&D support to Spirit demonstrates the work we are doing to drive up levels of innovation and cement Scotland as the top location in the UK for R&D related foreign direct investment.  Today's announcement of an additional £45 million investment in this area by the Scottish Government will be a further boost to Scotland's innovation landscape.”


Spirit AeroSystems received a £2.1 million R&D grant from Scottish Enterprise which, alongside early stage backing from the Aerospace Technology Institute, allowed the company to develop and commercialise new composite technology to enable them to win the Airbus contract. The R&D financial contribution to this project by Spirit, in addition to the SE funding, was £18.3 million.

The contract is to produce the ‘spoiler’ wing component for the Airbus A320 aircraft. A spoiler is a device used to reduce the lift of an aircraft in a controlled way.


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