National Economic Forum: June 2021

National Economic Forum 16 June 2021 Transforming Scotland's Economy: working together to secure a successful future.

Host: Ivan McKee, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise

Tom Arthur, Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth

Facilitator: Sara Thiam, Chief Executive SCD

Scribe(s): Graeme Cook and Morag Watt, Scottish Government

This discussion group will explore how public sector funding routes, including but not limited to procurement, can be used to enable an inclusive and green economic recovery.

By considering how to effectively employ whole system approaches which encourage cohesive delivery this discussion group will also offer an opportunity to consider where and how we can foster resilient supply chains. It will look at what actions are required to help capture domestic opportunities to create jobs and build export potential in the short, medium and longer term.

The public sector in Scotland spends over £12 billion annually procuring goods and services: everything from new schools, hospitals, affordable housing and ferries to personal and social care, business support, office supplies and IT systems. 

Scottish procurement legislation, policy and systems underpin a focus on delivering National Outcomes as part of the National Performance Framework, delivering socioeconomic impact beyond the contract, including boosting inclusive economic recovery, facilitating fair work, tackling climate change and enabling innovation. 

Recent work has shown that when the business support and grants provided by the Enterprise Agencies aligns with public procurement, the results are greater than the sum of their parts. During the COVID-19 response, enterprise experts worked with public procurement teams to find and support Scottish firms that could manufacture Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Scottish firms won work, public sector PPE needs were met, and Scottish manufacturing jobs were supported during the biggest economic crisis in living memory.

Our new Supply Chains Development Programme aims to do the same in other sectors:

  • embedding close working between procurement, economic development, Enterprise Agencies and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS); 
  • combining our knowledge of Scotland’s industry and manufacturing capability to identify where we can support businesses build capability and capacity so they are better positioned to bid for and win public sector contracts
  • building supply chain resilience and better equipping businesses to create jobs and build export potential

The early focus is on identifying opportunities in three broad areas: Net Zero Transition, Built Environment and Health.


  • in which industries/sectors are there the greatest opportunities to build resilient domestic public supply chains? Which of these might provide a valuable foothold in Global markets?
  • what are the most effective ways of engaging the widest range of businesses in these opportunities? Who is already good at this? 
  • what actions are required to help build supply chain capability and capacity to help capture domestic opportunities to create jobs and build export potential in the short and medium term? What needs to change? Who needs to lead?
  • what additional actions are required for the longer term?
  • how do we make sure benefits cascade down the supply chain?
  • how can industry help / lead? Are existing Industry Leadership Groups the answer?


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