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.

11. Scotland's Innovation Architecture

The Scottish Innovation Ecosystem comprises a number of institutions and assets that play an important and mutually supportive role in developing and delivering innovation in Scotland.

The delivery of this Strategy starts from a position of strength with world class innovation assets across the country, a strong and vibrant higher education system, a business base that includes highly innovative companies across different sectors and of different scales, a number of areas where Scotland has a distinct competitive advantage and the potential to lead the world, and a proud history of innovation and entrepreneurialism.

We have stories of incredible success and effective collaboration across the country, with a selection of these included in this Strategy as case studies. We also have a number of initiatives that will support and align with this Strategy. We are building a Tech Scaler network that will transform our entrepreneurial ecosystem and form a national network of institutions dedicated to the intensive schooling of tech entrepreneurs in the best available leadership, commercial and scaling techniques and will, for the first time, provide our best tech start-ups with a truly world-class developmental environment.

We also are supporting collaboration and partnership working between industry and the public sector in areas such as Health with new initiatives on NHS test beds.

Our Innovation Ecosystem is driven by our innovative businesses and our academic and research institutions. It is supported by a range of infrastructure, architecture and programmes.

This table sets out some of the key actors and assets and the contribution they make to the ecosystem. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all the assets across the country, merely a snapshot to provide some context on the various important stakeholders in the ecosystem and the roles they play.


Scottish Government

Scottish Government is responsible for setting the policy direction for Innovation in Scotland. With the delivery of the Scottish Innovation Strategy, the Scottish Government aims to transform Scotland's innovation ecosystem in order to ensure that our businesses, people and institutions are ready to meet the global economic challenges and opportunities we face over the next ten years.

Scottish Enterprise

Scottish Enterprise (SE) is Scotland's national economic development agency. Its purpose is to help businesses innovate and scale to transform the economy. Central to this are greater levels of innovation, building international competitiveness and encouraging more investment in companies and infrastructure. We work with partners in the public and private sectors to find and exploit the best opportunities.

SE along with Highland and Islands Enterprise and South of Scotland Enterprise support sustainable and inclusive growth across Scotland.

Highland and Islands Enterprise

Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE) offers an innovation Service which gives support to businesses within the Highlands and Islands regional area and helps them identify the changes needed for businesses to thrive. HIE do this in a number of ways, such as giving support on; improving productivity, protecting intellectual assets for businesses, developing new products and services, providing support on research and development, identifying new opportunities for businesses to look in to and developing a strategy for future innovation.

South of Scotland Enterprise

South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE)'s bold and inclusive remit covers the growth and development of the economy, environment and communities in the South of Scotland. It provides specialist and tailored innovation and entrepreneurial support, to organisations, irrespective of size, through all stages of the innovation journey. It follows a roadmap approach focused on the key stages of idea generation, activation, commercialisation, acceleration and scaling. It also works in partnership with many national partners, including the Innovation Centres, academic partners, Civtech and Codebase as part of the Scottish Government's innovative Tech Scaler initiative to create and scale start-ups.

Regional Economic Partnerships

Regional Economic Partnerships (REPs) are collaborations led by local authorities, the private sector, education and skills providers, our economic agencies, and the third sector. Evolving from the City Region and Growth Deals Programme, they perform a broader, strategic role using Deals and other significant regional interventions and investment to catalyse further economic growth across several economic drivers and enablers.

To date, REPs have focused on establishing an economic vision for their region, inclusive governance and clear delivery plans. Agile REPs provide a vehicle to engage with and deliver Scottish Government and UK Government policy areas which are seeking greater synergy with regional opportunities.

NSET and the Regional Economic Policy Review carve out a more explicit and enhanced role for REPs in Scotland's economic transformation, with the UK Government and Scottish Government seeking to use these structures to deliver strategically and regionally significant investments of scale.

Innovation Centres

Scotland's Innovation Centre (IC) programme, launched in 2012 and funded in partnership by the Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. The ICs work with Scotland's colleges, universities and research institutes to address demand from, and the opportunities and challenges facing, the private, public and third sectors.

The seven current ICs are focused on different areas but are united in the aim to enhance innovation and knowledge exchange across key economic sectors to create jobs and deliver economic and societal benefit. They add value through collaborative projects, consortia building, secondments, industrial studentships as well as providing spaces for collaborative work and shared access to equipment. ICs also support skills and training to develop the next generation of researchers and knowledge exchange practitioners through masters and post-doctoral level provision.

The Seven Innovation Centres are:

The Data Lab – Scotland's Innovation Centre for data and AI. They help companies, organisations and individuals capitalise on the opportunities that exist within the field of data science — working with them to grow their operations, develop innovative new projects and ensure they have the data skills needed for the future.

BE-ST – 'Built Environment – Smarter Transformation' have a goal of accelerating Scotland's built environment's transition to net zero. They aim to provide the connections, infrastructure and culture needed to solve the sector's most pressing challenges. They bring together world-class academia, government bodies and industry at all levels to future-proof the commercial and environmental road forward for the built environment.

CENSIS – Scotland's Innovation Centre for sensing, imaging and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. They work with private and public organisations of all sizes to de-risk and accelerate innovation and overcome technology barriers to achieve business transformation.

SAIC – Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre work to reduce the environmental footprint and help boost the economic impact of aquaculture. They bring together the needs of businesses and academia, supporting commercially relevant, collaborative research.

IBioIC – Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre is a networking and support organisation that connects industry, academia and government to bring biotechnology processes and products to the global market. They do this by offering scale-up facilities, talent development, funding provision, and promotion of Scotland's unique assets.

PMS-IC – Precision Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre is the national centre for accelerating the advancement and adoption of precision medicine. PMS-IC brings together industry innovators, clinicians and world-class researchers to collaborate on opportunities.

DHI - Digital Health and Care Innovation Centre. The DHI was set up to harness innovation to seek and solve key challenges for health and care sector in order to help Scotland's people live longer, healthier lives and to help Scotland's economy grow. DHI is a national resource that combines leading industry and academic expertise (with health and social care experience) to support essential transformation of health and care services in Scotland.

Net Zero Technology Centre

Net Zero Technology Centre based in Aberdeen are aiming to bring the energy industry to a place of digital and automated decarbonised future by developing technologies that that reduce emissions and reach the stage of a fully integrated energy system.

National Manufacturing Institute Scotland

The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) is high performing industry-led research and development group with a mission to make Scotland a global leader in advanced, sustainable manufacturing.

From its specialist centres and landmark headquarters alongside Glasgow's international airport, its teams of the best and brightest engineers work with industries large and small to unlock big productivity gains, develop new products and processes, transform the skillset, win new orders and grow their businesses.

Medicine Manufacturing Innovation Centre

The Medicine Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC) is a collaboration between CPI, University of Strathclyde, UK Research and Innovation, Scottish Enterprise and founding industry partners, AstraZeneca and GSK. The aim of the centre is to accelerate the development of a new generation of medicines manufacturing processes and to help companies integrate these within their existing models. MMIC will enable industry, academia, healthcare providers and regulators to work collaboratively to address challenges and maximise technology opportunities within the medicines supply chain.

Innovation Districts

An innovation district is a concentrated area of physical spaces that cluster and foster interactions between businesses, entrepreneurs, start-ups, research organisations and academia. They combine economic, physical and networking assets to encourage research and development, innovation. They accelerate the growth of businesses and encourage investment. The Brookings Institution highlights density, proximity, accessibility and mixed-use spaces can help create an Innovation District environment optimised for collaborating, networking and living.

Scottish Development International

With a network of more than 30 global offices, Scottish Development International (SDI) promotes Scotland as a place for investment and trade. Securing more international trade and investment is important in helping to create a more dynamic and globally competitive economy. SDI helps more businesses from around the world do business in or with Scotland. It also supports innovative and ambitious Scottish companies grow and export through international trade. Scottish Enterprise delivers SDI services in close coordination and partnership with the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and South of Scotland Enterprise.

Scottish Funding Council

The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) is Scotland's tertiary education and research authority. SFC's ambition is to make Scotland an outstanding place to learn, educate, research and innovate – now and for the future.

SFC invests around £2 billion of public money annually in pursuit of its purpose which is to sustain a world-leading system of tertiary education, research and innovation that enables students to flourish; changes lives for the better; and supports social, economic and environmental wellbeing and prosperity.

Scottish Health Innovation Partnership

Working alongside NHS Scotland, The Scottish Health Innovation Partnership aim to accelerate and commercialise healthcare innovations. The Innovation Together Strategy is a five-year strategy set around a number of strategic commitments which match the aims of Scotland's National Performance Framework.

Transport Scotland

Transport Scotland is the National Transport Agency for Scotland and seeks to deliver a sustainable transport system that will benefit all Scotland. They will support Scottish Government's aim of increasing sustainable economic growth.

Marine Scotland

Marine Scotland is responsible for the integrated management of Scotland's seas. It works closely with delivery partners NatureScot and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency to ensure compliance with regulation, promoting sustainable, profitable and well-managed marine sectors including sea fisheries, aquaculture, marine renewables, freshwater fisheries and marine planning, embedded with sound environmental management. It's scientific resource ensures a robust evidence base upon which policies are developed. It is also responsible for the Marine Fund Scotland which delivers on Scotland's Blue Economy Vision and which supports innovation at an individual project level.

Skills Development Scotland

The national skills body for Scotland is Skills Development Scotland (SDS). By assisting individuals and companies in developing and utilising their abilities, SDS support Scotland's sustainable economic growth and collaborate with a number of partners to offer services that have the greatest positive impact on Scotland's citizens, businesses, and economy.


CivTech leverages the power of the public purse to drive innovation in the public and third sector while creating sustainable high growth potential businesses. The programme takes real problems faced by government departments, public sector organisations and charities in Scotland, and invites innovative companies of any age or stage to work hand-in-hand to create the solution. The programme provides both funding and practical support for public and third sector organisations with a need they cannot meet through the market. It also supports innovative business to develop solutions to the challenges set and business proposition that will enable them to grow and scale.

Scotland Innovates

Scotland Innovates is a supplier-led innovation service, which provides an online portal for current and new suppliers to submit information on innovative products and services to the entire Scottish Public Sector for consideration. The service aims to identify appropriate public sector routes to market and provides helpful feedback for all received submissions. In addition to providing a centralised link to the Scottish Public Sector, the Scotland Innovates website includes guidance, news, innovation case studies and information on upcoming events.

Scottish Business Network

Scottish Business Network represents Scotland's Global Business Diaspora. The non-profit voluntary community was developed with the goal to unite the diaspora for the benefit of Scotland. Members of the community look to work and support innovative ventures in Scotland by sharing their experience, expertise, funding and networks.

UK Government

The UK Government works with Innovation Institutions across the UK to stimulate Research and Development (R&D) and drive growth, productivity and wellbeing. The UK Innovation Strategy is the UK Government's plan to create the optimal conditions for increased private sector investment in Innovation across the UK. It is backed by increased public investment in R&D of £20 billion per annum by 2024/25. While this strategy applies to the whole of the UK and includes areas of action that are reserved (e.g. new Visa routes for innovation), it sits alongside important work being taken forward by the devolved administrations and delivery partners, including this Strategy (Scotland's National Innovation Strategy).


UKRI is an organisation that brings a number of disciplinary research councils together and work in innovative ways to deliver an ambitious agenda.

Innovate UK

Innovate UK is the UK's innovation agency. They provide businesses throughout the UK with the expertise, connections, facilities and funding needed to test, demonstrate and scale the most innovative products, services and systems.


Catapults are designed to support innovation and de-risk the transition from research to commercial delivery through the provision of R&D infrastructure, specialist knowledge and expertise, partnership and collaboration building capabilities, and business support. Three of the UK's nine catapults have sites based in Scotland: Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, High Value Manufacturing Catapult and Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult.

Case Study - ONE BioHub – an innovation hub transforming life sciences

Innovation and entrepreneurial growth are at the heart of north east Scotland's vision for life sciences growth. The Aberdeen city region already has a distinctive cluster of life sciences businesses tackling global health challenges, from neurodegenerative diseases and diabetes to antimicrobial resistance and cancer.

Private sector economic development catalyst Opportunity North East is working with the University of Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University and NHS Grampian to turn world-leading research and ideas into spin-out and start-up businesses. Creating ONE BioHub as the focal point and innovative place to support bio-entrepreneurs commercialising next generation solutions.

Over the past six years Opportunity North East has worked with partners to transform the regional ecosystem while developing the £40 million ONE BioHub as the new and iconic sector innovation hub. ONE has funded, developed and delivered pre-commercialisation and accelerator support, leadership programmes on commercial skills and created one of the most engaged life sciences networks in the country, while raising the region's profile with investors, strategic partners and industry leaders in the UK and internationally.

Opening in spring 2023, ONE BioHub provides the infrastructure, facilities and specialist business support and ecosystem to inspire ambition, give people skills and knowledge to turn research into businesses and support them at each stage of the entrepreneurial journey.

ONE BioHub is on the Foresterhill Health Campus in Aberdeen, one of Europe's largest co-located healthcare, life sciences and teaching sites – where the commercial, clinical and research community tackles modern health epidemics. ONE BioHub provides laboratories, incubation and collaboration space and custom fit-out accommodation over five floors, specialist business support programmes, and access to expert networks and investors. Tenants will be spin-outs, start-ups and scaling businesses bringing new drugs, treatments, therapies and technology to market. It will ultimately accommodate up to 400 people. ONE BioHub is led and co-funded by Opportunity North East with co-investment from the UK Government, Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise. NHS Grampian and the University of Aberdeen are strategic partners and ONE BioHub is a key industry innovation project in the Aberdeen City Region Deal.

The partners share a vision to create a home for successful life sciences companies. From where they will drive regional economic diversification and create high-value jobs, contribute to national growth and improve the world's health.

Dr Deborah O'Neil OBE FRSE is the founder and CEO of NovaBiotics – a leading clinical-stage biotechnology company in Aberdeen. She chairs the life sciences board at Opportunity North East and BioAberdeen, the not-for-profit delivering ONE BioHub.

Deborah said: 'Opportunity North East is transforming the regional ecosystem working with partners in both universities and NHS so that innovation from those world-leading ideas factories is commercialised. BioHub addresses the lack of specialist infrastructure for company spin-out, creation and growth that is known to be a major barrier for the sector. It combines the innovative place, space and entrepreneurial support that will ensure next generation bio-entrepreneurs flourish here and innovation reaches the market, transforms healthcare and improves patient outcomes.'


Email: Innovation@Gov.Scot

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