International network: monitoring and evaluation report 2022-2023

The Scottish Government's international network monitoring and evaluation reports for the financial year from April 2022 to March 2023.

Scotland House London

Context for 2022/23

Scotland House London (SHL) is a unique collaboration between Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise (including Scottish Development International), Visit Scotland and Highland and Islands Enterprise. It provides a place for businesses and organisations to develop networks, work, do business and stage events in order to drive their growth; it is a permanent base for staff from SG and partner organisations in London, and is used to support trade and investment, strengthen government to government relations and facilitate collaboration on a wide range of policy priorities. SHL provides the platform through which we collaborate to showcase the best of Scotland to key London and international audiences. SHL consists of 14 full time SG staff members and 6 full time SDI staff. SHL’s responsibilities cover: (i) the development of EU and international diplomatic relationships through the community of London based Embassies, (ii) Economic Diplomacy including activities/events in support of Scotland’s trade, investment and research and innovation strategies, and (iii) Operations and membership which provides a co-working space used by businesses and organisations to hot-desk, hold meetings which generate income.


Post pandemic, the focus for year 2022/23 was on rebuilding the SHL team, refreshing our strategy and approach to engagement in London and re-establishing partnerships, networks and profile to deliver more effectively for Scotland in London as a key domestic and international market. Despite a challenging domestic, global and financial context results have been encouraging. Inward investment numbers are strong with targets met by the SHL SDI Investment team. The SHL team continues to provide structured support to Scottish companies through our membership model – with steady increases in companies supported, membership numbers and revenue generated through our events and meetings facilities.

We have seen a marked increase in engagement with our universities sector, with all of our major Universities now active members of SHL, increased collaboration with our universities sector on the platform has focused on showcasing the sectors strengths, talent attraction and developing opportunities to attract investment into our research and modern technology eco systems. Increased engagement with our universities is also supporting a sharpened focus on Scottish Connections work – through coordinated alumni outreach and events programming. Our international engagement work is delivering deepened networks at a more senior level across the London based international Embassy network – and targeted work in coordination with policy directorates continues to deliver new partnerships on key priority areas of our national strategies e.g. NSET and on hydrogen. Interest in Scotland, our economy and opportunities for trade, investment and knowledge exchange continue to develop, as does the appetite for regular and clear information on the question of constitutional change.

Against the backdrop of the challenging UKG-EU negotiations which had implications for the Scottish Government’s engagement with the Commission, SHL has developed a high value relationship with the European External Action Service in London which has allowed us to facilitate policy discussion and/or incoming visits by the EU delegation to Scotland throughout the year, covering areas of mutual interest. It has also provided a valuable route to continue dialogue and explain Scotland’s position with regards to the future EU-UK relationship and broader current affairs. At the most senior level, we have been able to coordinate Ambassador-Ministerial/Director level engagement in both Edinburgh and London. These strengthened international networks are also creating an opportunity for more effective and higher impact promotion of Scotland’s cultural heritage and assets – an extensive programme of events attracted high value audiences to engage with our cultural institutions, festivals and artists.


Objective: To promote Scotland as a place to work, live, study, invest in and visit. We also supported sustainable economic growth for Scotland through access for Scottish companies to the SHL membership hub. We did this through showcasing Scotland’s rich culture, food and drink, such as with Scotch Whisky Association, investment opportunities and higher education landscape to audiences in London and across the world. We have promoted and showcased Scotland's cultural heritage and assets, delivering a programme of events across the arts supporting cultural organisations to engage new audiences.

Limited engagement or support for activity from relevant SG policy directorates continues to be a limiting factor and risk. Where we have made progress here, it has been largely without that policy input or support.

  • Average Twitter engagement rate of 2.8%
  • 2,603 Twitter followers at 31 March 2023
  • 239 new Twitter followers
  • 262,300 Twitter impressions

Hub Stats

  • Staged 68 events, with 2,238 attendees
  • 13 Ministerial visits
  • 90 Members
  • 9 Universities secured as members
  • Over 3,412 Hub Visitors
  • 451 Business Meetings (224 Members/227 Partners)

Case study: EUNIC

Our cultural engagement has allowed us to enhance Scotland’s reputation internationally. Of note is our work with the EU National Institutes of Culture (EUNIC) network. We contribute a small annual fee and participate in monthly meetings. This grants access to culture diplomats from priority countries in the EU/EEA and provide opportunities to showcase Scottish artists to international audiences through joint festivals, such as the In Short film festival and the European Writers’ Festival at the British Library.

We have utilised this network to promote Scotland’s reputation through 6 significant events to showcase Scottish festivals and national arts organisations. For example, we hosted an event in November 2022 in collaboration with Creative Scotland and British Council Scotland, where we promoted a ground-breaking report on Culture Assets to EUNIC London, non-European culture diplomats, and the broader cultural community. The Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, External Affairs and Culture hosted and Scotland’s Makar performed. In March 2023, we also hosted a briefing at SHL from Scottish Ballet on their world-leading and revenue generating programmes addressing dementia, disability and youth disengagement through dance.

Both events helped positively showcase innovative, progressive and modern elements of Scottish culture to influential stakeholders. The first event enabled Creative Scotland and British Council Scotland to access a breadth of stakeholders from target partner countries.

The Scottish Ballet briefing led to offers for Scottish Ballet to engage further with Norway, Finland, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, in addition to an offer to take part in a funded study visit to Lithuania. This in turn has led to requests for a briefing to encourage partnerships with Scotland’s leading festivals. We are discussing such an event with the Fringe Festival. There was strong positive feedback from the EUNIC London Presidents on these events and subsequently an offer to explore a study visit to Scotland in 2023/24. This demonstrates how we directly build Scotland’s reputation internationally and provide unique opportunities for Scottish cultural institutions to deepen and expand their international collaboration.

International Trade

Objective: To support the delivery of the Export Growth Plan through the network of Economic and Trade attachés based in the London embassy network.

We have been able to maintain and grow our 1-to-1 relationships in Embassies featured in the plan and with the Association of Economic Representatives London (AERL). This approach allowed us to deliver trade promotion events with the Mexican and Vietnamese Embassies with which we did not previously have a relationship. This approach for events is now a model for SHL going forward.

Achieving this has posed challenges such as SDI do not directly support international trade through the London office.

  • 6 Trade events with 319 guests attending.
  • Events included Global Trade Week, City of London Engagement, Entrepreneurial Scotland and SBN Scotland in Asia.

Case study: Building Connections

By building connections via the AERL, the economic attaches network, and developing relationships with businesses and associations, we have been able to identify, create and collaborate on opportunities for promoting Scotland and our key exports, particularly our food and drink sectors.

Development of ties with the Mexican Embassy led to a joint event to showcase key food and drink exports from both Scotland and Mexico, timed to commemorate the first year of the UK-Mexico Trade Continuity agreement. Mexico is a target market for Scotland’s export growth and North America is the third largest regional market for Scotch Whisky. Collaborating with the Mexican Embassy the event featured a fusion of cultures, showcasing Mexican and Scottish cultural performances and promoting respective exports of whisky and mezcal. It also provided a further opportunity for SHL to promote Auld Hag, a traditional Scottish catering company at early stages in the London market, providing a platform for them to gain exposure and an opportunity for SHL to showcase some of the best of Scotland’s food and drink offer.

Building on and strengthening existing ties with the Scotch Whisky Association and the Embassy of Vietnam, we collaborated on an event to mark the 50-year anniversary of diplomatic relations between Viet Nam and the UK. Working with the SWA, the sector’s interests and needs were well represented in the event design and ensuring delivery at a time that supported key market visits.

These events helped support and promote some of our key sectors, allowing us to deepen ties with international partners whilst promoting Scotland’s offer.

The Ambassador of Mexico found the event to be incredibly valuable, and it has resulted in further engagements with Mexico. FM was hosted by the Ambassador of Mexico for a breakfast engagement with the London-based network of Women in Diplomacy. The Mexican Embassy have informed us that the Ambassador will be travelling to Scotland in April to meet with business and political leaders, engaging with the diaspora and promoting Mexican products and culture over a four day visit.

The event with the Vietnamese Embassy and SWA provided opportunities for business and diplomatic contacts to recognise and celebrate Scotland’s distinct contribution to the UK-Viet Nam diplomatic relationship.

Engagements such as these help us to create stronger ties which support the Scottish Government’s Export Growth Plan and help us meet strategic objectives to promote and showcase Scotland's cultural heritage and assets, promoting Scotland’s strengths and investible opportunities.

Research and Innovation

Objective: London is a hub of innovation, presenting an opportunity to connect Scottish companies, universities and Innovation Centres with innovation opportunities from potential customers and partners in London. Our objectives for 2022-23 centred around promoting Scotland's strengths and investible opportunities, at a strategic level and across the Opportunity Areas highlighted within the Inward Investment Plan, including priority areas such as Energy Transition, IT & Software, Digital Financial & Business Services and Healthtech. SHL also promoted regional economic strengths, opportunities and propositions to potential investors and key influencers including through work with Local Authorities, Chambers of Commerce and other relevant organisations.

  • 9 Universities members
  • 9 Innovation Centre members
  • 12 R&I related events staged with total of 320 guests
  • Events staged include Climate Tech, Net Zero, Spotlight on Innovation, AI Accelerator, Creative Industries, Future of FinTech, Universities Scotland RKEC and Converge Pitching

Case study: KultraLab

Formed in 2019 and London headquartered, KultraLab is an innovative behavioural science and technology company whose platform aims to transform how employees engage, learn and perform by combining behavioural science, mobile communications, AI personalised learning and cultural and performance analytics. SDI London engaged with the company to pitch the benefits of locating in Scotland to tap into Scotland’s supportive tech eco-system and specifically Scotland’s leading research excellence and expertise in data and digital. SDI introduced Kultralab to relevant contacts within the tech cluster around Edinburgh including DataLab and Skills Development Scotland, and also supported the company’s PR campaign to announce its arrival in Scotland.

In May 2022, the company publicly announced its decision to establish a new hub in Edinburgh after it received more than £2 million investment from Scottish investment syndicate, Kelvin Capital, and Scottish Enterprise in a move that will create up to 25 high-value jobs in Scotland. The Edinburgh site will be KultraLab’s ‘Product Hub’, consisting of teams from Engineering and Product Development. It is seen as being central to KultraLab’s plans to deliver its unique Behavioural Change Platform to its clients.


As a priority market, targeting inward investment from the rest of the UK (rUK) is a team effort involving staff across SE, SDI’s Global Investment team and other Scottish agency and external partners. Our objective is to engage with targeted, globally headquartered companies based in rUK & Ireland (both existing investors in Scotland and new prospects) across the Opportunity Areas within Scotland's Inward Investment Plan to secure inward investment and create jobs. Faced with the challenges of the adverse impacts on FDI flow arising from the economic climate, and increasing competition from other countries and UK Regions, we have contributed successfully towards the maintenance of Scotland’s leading position in the UK (after London) for the attraction of FDI.

For capital investment, as a Global Financial Centre, London is a priority market for our investor relations activities. There is strong investor interest in Scotland’s areas of opportunity; notably, the energy transition and company investment. For all investment, SHL provides a valuable means to host meetings and deliver events to bring opportunities to market in both a coordinated and cohesive way.

  • 22 (England) inward investment projects landed as a result of SDI support
  • 2,513 (England) and 116 (Wales) planned total jobs
  • 24 (England) planned green jobs
  • 2,513 (England) and 116 (Wales) jobs created/safeguarded paying RLW
  • £3,366,414 (England) planned R&D investment
  • £23,356,163 (England) and £7,000,000 (Wales) planned capital investment

Case study: Inward and Capital Investment

Inward: Burns and McDonnell is a US Headquartered, global engineering and construction company with UK expansion plans to provide its services to electricity network operators and renewable energy developers. Encouraged by ScotWind and the profile of Scotland’s net zero ambitions, SDI London engaged with the UK subsidiary to support the company’s interest in establishing a permanent project management presence in Scotland. SDI London provided the company with an understanding of Scotland’s landscape and support infrastructure. This included advice on skills availability and recruitment, as well as an introduction to the support available from Skills Development Scotland. To further support the company’s recruitment drive and raise their profile, SDI supported the company’s PR campaign to announce its launch in Scotland and growth ambition.

Capital: March 2023 Green Investment Portfolio - Energy Transition: SDI delivered an investor showcase opportunity allowing three Scottish projects with a combined investment raise of c£1.4BN to present to London based institutional investors.

Inward: In August 2022, the company publicly announced its decision to establish an operation in Motherwell, initially creating 10 new ‘green’ engineering jobs. The company joins Scotland’s growing industry supply chain base in supporting the energy transition. Commenting on the project, the company’s UK MD said: “Scotland’s global leadership in renewable energy is a perfect match for our firm’s global experience in designing and upgrading onshore network infrastructure.” The project therefore aligning with Scottish Government commitments towards supporting a transition to Net Zero.

Capital: Scotland’s investment potential was highlighted allowing new connections to be made which will hopefully lead to transactional investment activity. SHL provides the “marketplace” for this engagement to occur and is both well located and of high quality.

Scotland’s Interests

Objective: Through coordinated and sequenced engagement with international partners, we positioned Scotland as a progressive and constructive European partner and good global citizen. We sought to strengthen Scotland’s relationship with the European Commission by coordinating EEAS London engagement with Scotland, and promote and showcase Scotland's cultural heritage and assets, creating opportunities for international collaborations - delivering a programme of events across the arts supporting cultural organisations to engage new audiences. This diplomatic engagement was delivered in the wider context of a challenging EU-UKG relationship which directly impacted on EU member states strategy for engaging in the UK.

  • 347 GlobalScots (19 new GlobalScots in 2022/23)
  • 100 Diplomatic meetings
  • 5 Facilitated meetings between SG Ministers and Ambassadors in London

Case study: Diplomatic Engagement Strategy

To further enhance our international engagement, SHL developed a strategy and governance structure to inform our diplomatic engagement with European and wider international representations in London. The strategy was coordinated with the Directorate for External Affairs, Scotland House Brussels and the wider overseas network to ensure a coordinated approach and set out the themes/policies for engagement, whilst prioritising countries as appropriate. Through this structured approach we have been able to increase both frequency and seniority of our diplomatic engagement, giving us greater access to decision makers and influential contacts from international partner countries. These discussions provided a platform to promote the international elements of the SG policy agenda and enabled us to secure commitments to further dialogue and cooperation on areas of shared ambition with partner countries including, but not limited to, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand and Australia.

Through dialogue with the Embassy of Lithuania, we were informed of plans to accelerate its transition to renewables, with the first Baltic offshore wind auction planned in mid-2023. SHL reflected on Scotland’s own journey on the ScotWind leasing round and offered to facilitate further dialogue with relevant Scottish policy leads. Follow up discussions have now taken place, with a commitment to work together on a visit by a delegation from Lithuania, covering both policy exchange and business to business opportunities.

In advance of the launch of the Scottish Government’s National Discussion on Education, SHL, through dialogue with the New Zealand High Commission, secured discussion on education with senior leads in their ministry of Education to learn from the NZ experience of delivering a national discussion on education. SG Education officials confirmed the dialogue was hugely valuable, reinforcing the broad SG approach whilst providing ideas to enhance our plans and valuable insight on the challenges faced by NZ, which policy took into account in advance of the SG launch.

Medium to long-term impact

The Economic Diplomacy and Engagement (EDEL)Team have been focusing on NSET action areas to support delivery for the Scottish economy:

Entrepreneurial People and Culture: Through membership at SHL, we have connected and built links with various business organisations, offering support for their events hosted at SHL, for both London-based Scottish businesses and Scottish businesses travelling to London. This includes a multi-year relationship built with Entrepreneurial Scotland, during which we have hosted delegations on cohort development visits to London. In early 2023, we hosted Entrepreneurial Scotland’s Saltire Scholar Alumni event, which focused on promoting entrepreneurial skills and early stage entrepreneurial activity.

New Market Opportunities: Working closely with SDI colleagues, we have harnessed ministerial visit programmes to identify, discuss and promote new market opportunities. Incorporating ministerial engagements with current and prospective investors in Scotland during visits to London through both bilateral meetings and events at SHL, we have showcased Scotland’s pipeline of investable opportunities and contributed to attracting crucial capital investment for Scotland.

A culture of delivery: Taking forward the sentiment of crossing public and private sector boundaries, SHL developed a joint SG/SDI project to speak to business and support long term strategic investment in Scotland. Establishing and maintaining key relationships to generate leads and garner market intelligence are key objectives of SDI in London. Working with the EDEL Team, SDI and SG, we identified a list of target companies across key Opportunity Areas aligned with the Inward Investment Plan, including Technology and Energy Transition. By identifying leads and opportunities within a small number of targeted, global corporations headquartered in London, this project has enabled a widening of our relationships with the community of London-based Government Affairs Representatives of target corporations and build a focused approach towards developing a pipeline of potential long term inward investment projects, leveraging SHL’s presence and the city’s position within a global centre for capital and a vital source of inward investment.

Since 2019, the SHL EDEL team have been building a strong relationship with the City of London Corporation. Based on a shared understanding that the financial sectors of Scotland and London have more to gain from co-operating and coordinating than competing, engagements at official and Ministerial levels were formalised by a partnership agreement in 2020. This embedded the pursuit of shared economic interests and serves to promote Scotland’s distinctive offering and strengths in banking, asset management and servicing, insurance and pensions and fintech. Over the years, this cooperation has evolved to include annual set piece events, such as the Burns Supper co-hosted by our First Minister and successive Lord Mayors of London. As an expansion, and based on this well developed relationship, in April 2022 the First Minister and Lord Mayor of London hosted an Investor Dinner showcasing Scotland and demonstrating the shared commitment between SG and City of London in supporting the financial and professional services sector’s role in driving our collective economic recovery. Looking ahead, 2023/24 will deliver a refreshed partnership agreement with deeper collaboration outlined on green and sustainable finance, place-based impact investment, collaboration between CoL and SNIB, and more. By focussing more aspects of SHL activity distinctly on economic priorities and the NSET programmes of action, we have created new avenues of SG engagement with business, widening our networks and strengthening the voice representing Scotland’s interests to global audiences.



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