Bespoke support and a new Centre of Excellence to help Scotland’s manufacturers innovate and expand have been announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (pictured).
Supported by £70m of investment, a new strategy for manufacturing – A Manufacturing Future for Scotland – outlines how government will work with industry and with higher and further education institutions to stimulate innovation, improve productivity and increase investment in Scottish manufacturing in order that it can better compete globally.
The funding, including £30m from the European Regional Development Fund, will enable companies to capture new opportunities presented by a move to a more circular economy.
This includes a Circular Economy Investment Fund to help manufacturers develop innovative technologies, business models and infrastructure, from the proof of concept stage through to implementation. It will also introduce a new Circular Economy Service, offering development support to businesses seeking to redesign their processes and products.
Complementing this service, the plan will also help to address anticipated demand for skills by promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects and improving engagement between industry and education.
Speaking during a visit to Glenhead Engineering in Clydebank, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Scotland has a long and proud manufacturing heritage and manufacturing must also be a key driver of our future prosperity.
“The products we make, from pharmaceuticals to textiles, represent over 50% of our international exports and 54% of our expenditure on research and development.
“While manufacturing has undergone a significant transformation in recent decades, with increased globalisation and greater use of digital technology, it remains a high skills and high wage sector, with earnings that are above the Scottish average.
“Our Programme for Government committed us to further action and backed by £70m of new circular economy funding, the Action Plan outlines how the Scottish Government, our Enterprise Agencies and Zero Waste Scotland will work with industry and higher and further education institutions to stimulate innovation, productivity and investment. Amongst the key actions in the strategy will be the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Manufacturing which will act as a hub for continuous innovation to ensure Scotland remains a sustainable and competitive place to do business.”
Circular Economy Investment Fund
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “A circular economy provides an opportunity to support the competitiveness of our manufacturing base and attract investment – through eradicating waste, and becoming more efficient in our design and manufacturing processes to extend product life-cycles.
“The Circular Economy Investment Fund and Circular Economy Service will offer vital support to manufacturers that are seeking to develop processes and products that improve the economic performance of SMEs while at the same time reducing the impact of economic activity on the natural environment, in line with Scottish Government and EU policies.
“The Scottish Government will shortly publish our circular economy strategy – Making Things Last – which will set out in more detail our priorities for delivering the economic, environmental and social benefits of a more circular economy.”
Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland – “This new funding and support package will push boundaries in business innovation to develop circular models that will keep products in use for longer and ultimately save precious raw materials and resources”
Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said: “This is a welcome announcement from the Scottish Government and great news for Scotland. We’re delighted that we’ll be using our expertise to deliver such a ground-breaking programme.
“This new funding and support package will push boundaries in business innovation to develop circular models that will keep products in use for longer and ultimately save precious raw materials and resources.
“This makes great economic as well as environmental sense. By investing now, the Scottish Government is putting down foundations to build an ever more sustainable future – one that is resource efficient and most definitely circular.”
The Circular Economy Investment Fund and Service will be fully operational from 1 April 2016. Zero Waste Scotland is now inviting expressions of interest from small to medium sized businesses (including third sector organisations) in priority sectors such as manufacturing, food and drink, energy infrastructure, construction, re-use, remanufacturing, repair and reprocessing.