Scotland-FlagR&D is a vital element of the Scottish innovation system and this First Report of the Growing Value Scotland (GVS) Task Force places Scotland’s R&D spend in its international and UK context. It also highlights a tremendous opportunity, which if effectively leveraged, would be a driver of economic growth in Scotland.

Given our findings that research and development activity levels by universities in Scotland are above the UK average, there is a rich and high quality asset which is underutilised and underexploited and could foster innovation and growth.

This first GVS Report was commissioned by the GVS Task Force, established in 2014 to explore ways of connecting the natural inventiveness of universities with the innovation needs of companies and the Scottish economy. It builds on a two-and-a-half year long UK-wide inquiry by the NCUB. This reported in 2012, and was published in 2014 as Growing Value: Business- University Collaboration for the 21st Century.

The findings of this and later reports will be used by the GVS Task Force, to formulate recommendations to business, universities, government and public funders on how to build more economically successful collaborative innovation in Scotland.

Whilst there are many successes, a key finding of this most recent report is that whilst university-based research spend in Scotland is above the UK average as a percentage of GDP, spending by business in this area lags considerably behind the majority of the UK.

There is a clear need to understand why there are geographical differences in Business R&D and how Scotland’s industrial base can undertake more R&D. A key component of both of these will be better relationships between universities and businesses across Scotland’s major industry sectors. Our focus must be on striving for greater collaboration and engagement between businesses and the higher education sector to create a stimulus for economic growth and increase the impact and contribution of the university sector in Scotland.

GVS is bringing together a unique group of Scottish business, university and public sector leaders to review the ways in which collaboration can increase sustainable economic growth in Scotland and create the knowledge-economy jobs of the future.

The Task Force aims to publish its final findings and recommendations in May 2016. If we are able to establish clear guidelines for the future following phase two of the report, the sky is the limit for Scotland’s local and national economy.

By Rob Woodward, CEO STV Group plc and Co-Chair of the Task Force
Professor Sir Ian Diamond, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen and Co-Chair of the GVS Task Force