Business hubs set-up and costs: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/17/02302
Date received: 10 October 2017
Date responded: 21 November 2017

Information requested

You asked for:

  1. the business plans for each of the Scottish Government business hubs;

  2. the total estimated cost of running the hubs and number of staff working in them when the current hubs are open;

  3. whether the Scottish Government has considered setting up a business hub anywhere outside of Europe and why a proposal if it does exist has not been acted upon;

  4. for the number of contracts and investments (and total value of) that have been secured through each of the business hubs to date;

  5. whether the Scottish Government has had any correspondence with the Department for International Trade, the Foreign Office or the Scotland Office surrounding the business hubs (and if correspondence exists that it be attached);

  6. whether the business hubs are in regular contact with the Department for International Trade, including each of their last correspondence dates;

  7. if it was ever considered or offered that the Scottish Government would be able to run the hubs out of existing UK embassies and consulates; and

  8. for a list of trade envoys appointed to the business hubs with date of appointment and when it is estimated that the hubs that do not yet have an envoy will have one appointed to them.


I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested in Annex A, B and C. We have answered your questions in respect of the two Hubs, London and Dublin, which are currently operational. The transition of the existing operation in Brussels is in progress, as are plans for Berlin and Paris.

The answers to your questions are:

1. The Dublin Hub Business Plans are attached with this email.

The work undertaken by partners in the London Hub (Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and VisitScotland) is directly aligned to their individual strategies or business plans which are published on their respective websites;

Scottish Government: Programme for Scotland 2017-18

Scottish Enterprise: 2017-2018 Operating Year Update

Highlands and Islands Enterprise: HIE Operating Plan 2017-18

VisitScotland: Corporate Plan and Operational Plan

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the websites listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

2. The estimated running costs excluding staff costs in 2017/18, for the Dublin Hub is £200,000 and for the London Hub is £1.1 million.

There are currently 2.75 staff in the Dublin Hub with a member of staff from SDI expected to start in December 2017.

There are currently 3 Scottish Government staff in the ‎London Hub. There are 12 SDI staff and 1 VisitScotland member of staff also in the Hub, all of whom transferred from other offices in London. Scotland House London allows colleagues the flexibility to work more collaboratively with partner public bodies and with its business members. Prior to relocating to this office, the Scottish Government was charged £390,000 per annum for office facilities in Dover House.

3. The Scottish Government considers its international prescence alongside existing overseas locations for SDI, Visit Scotland and other agencies. This has included locations outside of Europe. Given the existing footprint of agencies and current economic challenges Dublin, London, Berlin and Paris have been identified as priority locations.

4. Our Innovation and Investment Hubs provide a platform for, and a more joined up approach to, existing and new activity by the Government, partners and businesses to increase exports and attract investment to Scotland. Since opening, the Dublin Hub has worked with the SDI team in London and through its extensive Irish network to continue developing active inward investment leads. So far in 2017/18 2 new FDI projects have been landed from Ireland, creating or safeguarding 295 jobs. This adds to a strong record of performance since opening hat has seen a further 5 FDI projects landed creating 456 jobs.

Scotland House in London already has over 140 Scottish business members and is hosting around ten business focused events per month.

We are developing a framework to assess the Hubs contribution to trade, investment and other outcomes, though it will be challenging to fully separate out the specific impact of each Hub from wider trade and investment activities by the Scottish Government and partner agencies.

5. The Scottish Government has had correspondence with UK Government departments with regards to the Hubs. The correspondence we hold on file, and which is specific to the Hubs themselves, is attached in Annex A. The correspondence is between Scottish Government and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office regarding the Dublin Hub and with respect to London, the only correspondence we hold is with the Scotland Office referencing the closure of Dover House for the move to the London Hub.

More broadly, the Scottish Government and SDI have regular correspondence as appropriate regarding investment opportunities and this will be held within agencies as appropriate. While our aim is to provide information wherever possible in this instance the cost of locating, retrieving and providing the information requested would exceed the £600 upper cost limit. The reason for this is that to locate and retrieve that information we would have to conduct a search of all the records of the Scottish Government. Under section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the costs of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by the regulations made under section 12.

6. Both the Dublin and London Hubs are in frequent contact with Department for International Trade, the last correspondence being 7 November 2017 and 3 November 2017 respectively.

7. The Dublin Hub is currently located in the UK Embassy. There is no UK Embassy or Consulate in London.

8. There are no trade envoys appointed to the Hubs. The appointment of trade envoys is being taken forward as a separate process to the development of the Hubs, though where relevant they would be expected to access Hub support.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI-17-02302-Annex B-Dublin Office Business Plan 16-17.xlsx
FOI-17-02302-Annex C-Dublin Office Business Plan 17-18.xlsx


Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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