Enterprise and Skills Review report on Phase 2: Enterprise and Business Support

Report illustrating the outcomes and progress achieved by the Enterprise and Business Support project as part of the Enterprise and Skills Review.

Executive Summary

A core objective of the Enterprise and Skills Review is to drive alignment between the Scottish Government's enterprise and skills agencies. Responding to this, the Scottish Government and its agencies are already taking action to improve the delivery of business support. For example, Scottish Enterprise ( SE) has reviewed and further improved its account management service and is undertaking work to speed up its grant application processes; Highlands and Islands Enterprise ( HIE) has been reviewing how it improves the customer journey for businesses, including through its digital capability and delivery of specialist advice; SE, HIE and Business Gateway ( BG) are collaborating to help growth businesses to innovate; and SE, HIE and Skills Development Scotland ( SDS) have been working together on how to transform digital services.

To ensure that public sector business support delivers maximum benefit for businesses and the economy in terms of improved business performance, productivity and innovation, this project has focussed first on developing still deeper collaboration and taking forward further opportunities to improve the experience and impact of support. It also creates a stronger mechanism to facilitate on-going review and improvement. The parallel Innovation and International reports detail our specific approaches to supporting businesses that are innovation-driven and/or seek to trade internationally.

Section 1 introduces the report by setting out the roles of our business support partners and the challenges we are seeking to address. Section 2 outlines the project's purpose, our vision for business support, and the benefits of refreshing our system of delivery. Business support will be consistently focussed on the user, driving a growth culture, and building business capacity. This will be enabled by deeper collaboration between the key delivery partners.

Section 3 describes how our primary focus on the customer will be achieved through a nationally coherent, streamlined and digitally enabled support system. We will strengthen the ability of public sector providers to help companies develop their ambition, identify triggers for further support, and build businesses' digital and innovative capacity. This will be delivered by the partners creating an integrated system behind the scenes that ensures businesses get the right support at the right time. We then set out early action on specific support for scaling businesses and for groups such as female-owned or social enterprises.

Together, our agency and Business Gateway partners will be responsible for delivering a clear and coherent system of support that is based on shared principles, uses collective messaging, and makes clear individual and collective commitments. Section 4 details how, building on work already underway, they will implement the following key actions:

Improving Delivery

  • Starting this summer, and engaging with the business community and individual businesses, deliver a joint improvement programme to create a much more coherent and joined up system of support that is focussed on business need and is quick and easy to access and understand
  • Develop a single digital access point that is appropriate and accessible for all business types.
  • Build on work by the Office of National Statistics to develop and deliver a single, authenticated business ID to facilitate the joining up of support between organisations across Scotland and to reduce duplication in the provision of information by businesses.
  • Pilot, and if successful roll-out, a Business Box for companies - an electronic information pack that each new business receives alongside its Business ID.
  • Build on existing professional training, and use the capabilities of a common digital platform, to ensure business advisers are equipped to provide top quality advice that responds to all business types and to current and future business needs.

Ambition, entrepreneurship and scaling business

  • Undertake specific research, reporting in early 2018, on the behaviour and motivation of businesses in terms of ambition, innovation and productivity so that we reach more businesses more effectively and can better target future interventions.
  • Work with Entrepreneurial Scotland to establish, by autumn 2017, a 'backbone' of support to maximise the collective impact of Scotland's growing entrepreneurial movement.
  • Provide more and better co-ordinated support for businesses to 'scale up' by driving forward the Scotland CAN DO Scale movement through Entrepreneurial Scotland and partners across the system - with the new steering group in place from summer 2017.
  • Realise untapped economic potential by tackling the gender gap across start-ups and growth companies - including through this summer's refreshed Women in Enterprise Action Framework, with action to deliver a sustainable model that collaboratively develops and monitors future gender-aware and gender-specific policies and interventions.


  • Commission the new joint SG and agency analytical unit to identify suitable measures to determine partners' progress against individual priorities and in delivering collective impact.
  • Create a senior-level working group by the end of summer 2017 to drive forward our shared commitment and programme of continuous improvement.

The report's annexes outline:

  • The roles of the key business support and economic development organisations ( Annex A ).
  • Illustrative examples of improvements in how the agencies offer support ( Annex B ).
  • A simplified business view of the proposed support network, shown against the tight collaboration needed between partners behind the scenes to deliver this ( Annex C ).
  • An example view of the simplified customer journey ( Annex D ).

Accompanying published documents include:

  • A summary of the Phase 1 Call for Evidence Responses covering the Business Support, Innovation, and International projects.
  • Feedback from business focus groups held for the Business Support, Innovation and International projects in early 2017.
  • The Scotland CAN DO Scale scope and remit.
  • The Women's Enterprise Scotland thought piece for the project reference group.


Back to top