South Scotland MSP, Paul Wheelhouse, has warmly welcomed the launch of the new Scottish National Investment Bank aimed at driving economic growth across Scotland.
The Scottish Government has committed at least £2bn of investment to support the bank over the next ten years, with it seen as an essential component in helping meet Scotland's ambitious climate change targets and strengthening the economy at a much more localised level.
Mr Wheelhouse, who spent 19 years as a professional economist prior to his election in 2011, said:
"The National Investment Bank is going to be key to the shift to a low-carbon economy, and it will be all the more important in the current COVID context to support businesses, particularly innovative small and medium sized businesses as they grow, and it is vital to contribute to building a more resilient economy going forward.
"In my previous ministerial portfolio, as Business Minister, I was able to play a small part in the creation of the SNIB, meeting with stakeholders and equivalent organisations in Europe, such as the European Investment Bank, to discuss the concept and it became clear just how critical such an institution could be in filling a gap in the range of financial support available to businesses and to help grow the Scottish economy. Many people I engaged with referred to a lack of what is known as 'patient capital' - effectively funding that is invested for the long haul and particularly in industries where it can often take time for emerging products and technologies to get from concept to prototype and from there into commercial use and generating sales. It gives me enormous pleasure to see the SNIB now up and running, under the excellent leadership of its Chief Executive, Eilidh Mactaggart, and its Chair, Willie Watt, and already investing in Scottish businesses that will help us drive towards a greener, more sustainable future, with its first investment to a quantum technology company producing lasers.
"My hope is that businesses across the Scottish Borders, and the wider region, will take full advantage of the opportunities that the new, mission-led Scottish National Investment Bank will bring, and I would strongly encourage companies, and indeed local community projects to look into what the SNIB offers, given its mission to support meeting our net zero target in 2045 and wider support for companies for high growth potential. Yet again, it's a demonstration of how we are pushing forward sustainable and inclusive economic growth across the region - whether through the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, the new South Scotland Enterprise Agency or delivery of Borders Rail. It's the SNP in Government that is putting the building blocks in place to ensure a resurgence in our local economy, and the Scottish economy more generally, and to ensure that, in the face of significant challenges like Brexit, we seek to make it stronger and more resilient than it has ever been."