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.


Context for 2022/23

The Nordic Office is the latest addition to the Scottish Government’s overseas network, and is unique in that it is the first office with a regional remit.

The office, with a headcount of 3 staff, is co-located within the British Embassy in Copenhagen next to Scottish Development International (SDI), who have 5 staff. Together both teams work to promote Scottish interests within the Nordic region across a number of policy, trade and investment areas including energy and climate, social policies, health, space, and digital.


The office officially opened in August 2022, and so the past eight months have focussed primarily on setting up necessary corporate processes, developing relationships with the UK embassies across the Nordic region, and starting to build connections with key Nordic policy-makers and stakeholders. The office’s biggest achievements include:

  • Hosting back-to-back Burns Night celebrations in Copenhagen and Oslo, in doing so building positive working relationships with the British Embassies in both cities respectively, and highlighting to a group of senior stakeholders that the Scottish Government was increasing its presence within the Nordics.
  • Including the visit from the former First Minister in August, facilitating 3 ministerial visits as of April 2023 (one in Stockholm and two in Copenhagen).
  • Beginning to establish a dialogue with key public bodies within the region including the Nordic Council, and Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian energy and climate ministries.

Some of the challenges have included:

  • Capacity: servicing a region of five countries with 3 staff members has at times meant strict prioritisation, with not all avenues of collaboration with the Nordics able to be followed up on.
  • A recognition of timelines: it takes time (particularly in a pan-Nordic context and at a policy / structural level) to build the necessary relationships that will lead to the unlocking of greater collaborative opportunities for Scotland within the Nordic region.


In the eight months since the Nordic Office officially opened we have prioritised building an initial awareness across key stakeholder groups within the Nordic region of the opening of our office, the expanded presence of SG within the region, and of the cultural and policy-driven similarities between Scotland and the Nordic countries.

Focussing on the new Scottish Connections Framework, and our understanding of the issues that matter most to people within the Nordic region, we have emphasised Scotland’s green and climate credentials in our outreach, and have made good progress in pulling together a growing network of interested Scottish diaspora (initially in Denmark) who are keen to help promote Scotland in country.

  • 3.4% average Twitter engagement rate
  • 2,235 Twitter followers in total as of 31 March 2023
  • 2,235 new Twitter followers from previous year
  • 12,574 likes and 3,117 retweets
  • 5,267,000 Twitter impressions
  • 3 Ministerial engagements
  • 4 Danish articles covering the launch of the office, including an in-depth interview in Politiken (one of Denmark’s newspapers of note) with the former First Minister, and an article in financial paper Borsen.
  • These figures cover the period from August 2022 to April 2023

Case study: Back to Back Burns Nights in Copenhagen and Oslo, January 2022

  • Working in close collaboration with the British Embassies in Copenhagen and Oslo, we delivered two back-to-back Burns Night celebrations in the Danish and Norwegian capitals.
  • This required significant time and commitment from all members of the team, involving management of two different sets of venues, suppliers, guest lists, and entertainers.
  • For both events, to showcase their work and to promote Scotland’s cultural offering, we supported the attendance of Scottish artists. We enlisted the help of a renowned ceilidh band to deliver the event in Copenhagen, and a group of Scottish poets and musicians – including Scotland’s Makar – to deliver the event in Oslo.
  • In considering who to invite to these events, we emphasised a mix of Scottish diaspora living in Denmark and Norway, and senior-level contacts in areas of thematic importance for our business plan: this included officials from the Danish and Norwegian energy and climate ministries, senior renewable business leaders, and members of the Nordic Council.
  • Wanting to showcase Scotland’s cultural soft-power in a modern way, while retaining that sense of tradition and drama that international stakeholders associate with Scotland, we designed both events to feature a blend of traditional and modern music, offering a deliberate interpretation of Scotland as somewhere dynamic and relatable to the Nordics.
  • Both events were a huge success, with universally positive feedback. There were approximately 80 attendees in Copenhagen and 40 attendees in Oslo. Multiple attendees remarked that the event in Copenhagen had been ‘the best diplomatic event they had ever attended’, while in Oslo government officials remarked that their ‘eyes had been opened’ to what a modern Scotland looked like.
  • The events helped build trust and good working relationships with our FCDO counterparts in both Copenhagen and Oslo, and helped develop our initial contact points into some of the most important ministries for our work in country, which we have subsequently called upon in follow-up meetings.

International Trade

  • SDI’s main objectives are to help internationalise the Scottish economy by growing Scottish exports, increasing inward investment and developing trade connectivity across the Nordic region.
  • Increasing emphasis on trade development – matching company/sector capabilities to market ‘gaps’.
  • Working with SG, DBT, and FCDO, focus has been on the ClimateTech, Healthcare, Digitilisation, and Low Carbon sectors
  • EU Exit still offers challenges for Scottish businesses. Not just in the physical movement of goods but also in the movement of skilled manpower across the North Sea.
  • 54 companies supported
  • 18 international trade opportunities identified
  • £9,900,000 forecast international sales as a result of SDI support

Case study: Decarbonising Healthcare

  • Healthcare emissions contribute to the climate crisis, and SG and NHS Scotland have delivered a Climate Emergency and Sustainability Strategy for healthcare systems that sees them playing a leading role in a coalition of 40 countries that have set targets for healthcare sustainability.
  • Using the plan as inspiration, SDI have identified a growing number of Scottish companies that offer products and solutions that support this sustainability approach, particularly within healthcare facilities management and digitalisation.
  • SDI then created a platform for key players within the Scottish and Danish healthcare systems to meet with each other. The main objective of the event:
    • Showcase Scottish and Danish sustainable healthcare solutions and Scottish companies
    • Build relationships between key public / private healthcare stakeholders in Scotland / DK
    • Define common challenges and innovative solutions
  • The roundtable event was project managed internally by the SDI specialist with collaboration from Danish clusters and healthcare regions. The funding for the event was part SDI and part FCDO which also meant collaborating with the FCDO Prosperity Fund team based in Madrid.
  • The event was held at the British Embassy Copenhagen, with a small, focused reception of Danish healthcare professionals and Scottish companies over a 3-hour session.
  • The session not only allowed participants to share best practices and explore how tech, digital, and circular solutions can help decarbonise the healthcare sector, it allowed for SDI to identify areas for further Scottish / Danish collaboration and offered our companies the chance to connect with healthcare buyers.
  • The Danish hospitals were interested in one Scottish company’s solutions in particular, with a follow up conversation due to take place. SDI have now started to build a company portfolio based on this “concept” for other markets (for example, for COP28).


  • Currently SDI does not have dedicated FDI resource in the Nordic region. SDI activities are proactively supported from Dusseldorf or Glasgow, reactively supported by the Nordic team in Copenhagen.
  • Nordic FDI is focused on three mains sectors: energy transition, digital - data and aquaculture.
  • Energy transition (Offshore Wind, Hydrogen, decarbonisation of heat) is the primary FDI focus area aligning to SG’s aspiration to be Net Zero by 2045.
  • Examples of our investment work are with CIP, Ortsted, Fortum, LM Wind Power, Maersk, NorSea and Vestas as well as Tier 1 and Tier 2 firms to maximise local ScotWind content.
  • Metrics used are numbers of projects, jobs and CAPEX.
  • 1 inward investment project landed as a result of SDI support
  • 40 planned total jobs
  • 40 jobs created/safeguarded paying RLW

Case study: Wind Europe Investment Breakfast

  • Wind Europe is the world’s largest wind energy event for 2023. While SDI had a trade focus for this event, SDI HQ and the local Nordic team agreed that also having an inward investment event would be of value to the ScotWind programme, by engaging with existing and potential investors.
  • SDI co-hosted an inward investment breakfast in collaboration with Dansk Industri (the Danish CBI) and the Danish Trade Council. 6 current investors looking to expand their operations and 6 new potential investors joined a round table discussion to discuss and understand the future opportunity, policy framework and the new SOWEC Strategic Implementation model.
  • SDI, SG and SOWEC presented and a key component was explaining the developer led approach to future collaborative investment into Scotland for offshore wind and its supply chain.
  • The event was cost free (with Dansk Industri providing the meeting room and breakfast) and SDI led on the coordination and invitations. A great example of using our network and leveraging our activities through trusted partnerships.
  • Outcomes are difficult to document now but post discussion conversations with investors showed appetite to expand further or invest in Scotland to meet supply chain commitments and take advantage of the commercial wind opportunity.
  • Investors were all Nordic, feedback and intelligence was valuable and estimate the creation of 50 new jobs, from supply services, shipping, engineering services and fabrication, primarily in the north east of Scotland.

Scotland’s Interests

  • Over the previous period we have focused on identifying and beginning to build relationships with the most relevant official and political level contacts across the region.
  • Successes have included developing initial relationships with energy and climate ministries in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, identifying Forestry and Wetland policy as a key driver for Scotland’s relationship with Sweden, and making first contact with senior figures within the Nordic Council.
  • There remain challenges around capacity, with strict prioritisation an ongoing necessity.
  • 12 GlobalScots – 1 new recruit in 2022/23

Case study: Unlocking Sweden: Building Common-Ground on Forests and Wetlands

  • Our first Ministerial visit to Stockholm involved delivering a climate summit for Scottish and Swedish youth activists in partnership with the British Embassy in Stockholm, and producing a programme of ministerial engagements to accompany the event, on themes within environment and climate policy.
  • This required close collaboration and clear lines of communication with FCDO counterparts, and careful monitoring of the travel itineraries of the young Scots travelling to Stockholm.
  • Ensuring appropriate buy-in from Swedish authorities, at a time when Sweden was hosting the EU Presidency, meant being targeted in our outreach to Swedish government representatives: recognising the shared challenges and expertise Scotland and Sweden have specifically on forest and wetland policy, we decided to focus the wider programme of engagements on these topics.
  • The climate summit was well attended by both Scottish and Swedish attendees, with subsequent feedback from attendees being mostly positive, with many highlighting how rare opportunities like these are for younger people active in the climate space. The event helped stimulate people-to-people links between Scotland and Sweden, with follow up planned in both countries.
  • The collaboration between our office and the British Embassy in Stockholm was excellent, helping lay a strong foundation for future cooperation within Sweden.
  • The programme of Ministerial engagements – involving meetings with the Director General of the Swedish Forest Agency and the CEO of the world-renowned Stockholm Environment Institute – helped demonstrate to key senior Swedish stakeholders the value of Scotland as a partner on climate and environment policy.
  • Specifically, the Swedish Forest Agency expressed interest in exploring opportunities for greater collaboration – including policy exchange – with Scottish Forestry. Follow up is being planned.

Medium to long-term impact

As the Nordic Office only opened in August 2022, it is too early for us to be able to look back at previous years and form an accurate assessment of the medium to long-term impact of our activities. We are confident, however, that as we move into 2023 and 2024 our early efforts to build contacts in the areas of most importance to Scotland in the Nordic region will bear fruit.

Lessons learned for FY2022/23

Lessons learned for our opening eight months include:

  • A regional remit brings both significant opportunities and challenges. Recognising the capacity constraints of being a small team across multiple jurisdictions has necessitated us being quite strict on our priorities and activities.
  • Building strong, collaborative relationships with our FCDO colleagues across the region has helped deliver a series of impactful, memorable events, and has set us up well for the next annual cycle.
  • Being targeted in what we seek to engage the Nordic countries on – for example forestry and wetlands policy – leads to buy-in form our interlocutors.
  • Setting up the necessary corporate processes to run an overseas office takes time, and cannot be rushed, but will go on to be beneficial both to the current and future teams.
  • Promoting the resilience and wellbeing of the team is paramount to achieving successful outcomes.



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