National innovation strategy 2023 to 2033

Our vision is for Scotland to be one of the most innovative small nations in the world. This is our ten-year strategy to deliver that ambition. Innovation is a key tool to make Scotland a fairer, more equal, wealthier and greener country.

1. Ministerial Foreword

Innovation powers the wealthier, fairer and greener Wellbeing Economy described in our National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET). It generates opportunities for entrepreneurs, closes the productivity gap, attracts international capital and enables us to grow clusters of successful businesses in the markets of the future.

Scotland has a proud and enviable history and tradition of invention and innovation. Our people for centuries have been known as innovators with some of the best scientists and engineers, as well as writers and philosophers, coming from Scotland and helping to change the world.

We face challenges in maintaining our record of innovation in a rapidly changing, inter-connected world. While Scotland's productivity and business investment in Research and Development (R&D) have seen significant improvements in recent years – with the gaps to the rest of the UK largely closed – we have work to do to catch up with our international competitors. Too few Scottish businesses are innovating, and some of our most innovative companies struggle to scale.

Scottish innovators and inventors have been at the cutting edge of technological change throughout history. The next decade will bring profound changes with new technological breakthroughs and pressing challenges on climate change, health and the cost of living. These challenges also bring opportunities and I know that Scottish innovators, entrepreneurs and our innovative companies stand ready to meet those challenges and return Scotland to a central role on the global innovation stage.

This strategy describes how Scotland will overcome these challenges, build on its past and reaffirm its status as an innovative country in the future economy. It demonstrates how we will deliver product, service and process innovations which make the most of our natural advantages and translate our research excellence into commercial opportunity. In doing so, it sets out an approach that embraces every sector of our economy and every region of our country.

The strategy has been co-produced with partners across our country and overseen by a Steering Group co-chaired between Scottish Ministers and Sir Jim McDonald. It has been informed by a public consultation and is supported by an accompanying Evidence Paper which has been undertaken by Scottish Government economists and analysts in close collaboration with independent experts. The result is a diverse and inclusive approach to innovation that is consistent with our overall National Strategy for Economic Transformation[1] and key supporting documents such as our Inward Investment Plan,[2] our Global Capital Investment Plan,[3] A Trading Nation,[4] our exports plan, and our Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan[5].

Scotland has incredible strengths in innovation and a history of spectacular successes. This strategy is about the ways in which we build on the platform we have inherited and chart a course to continuing economic success.

My ambition is that Scotland will once again be known as one of the most innovative countries in the world, leading the world in a number of key areas and providing solutions to global problems. I believe that this Strategy will help us as a nation to achieve that ambition.

Richard Lochhead MSP

Minister For Small Business, Innovation & Trade


Email: Innovation@Gov.Scot

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