Our 90th year has served as an opportunity to reflect on SCDI’s origins in the Great Depression and our achievements to date.
The Scottish Development Council, set up in 1931, sought to understand the reasons for economic collapse and to co-operate with others to restore prosperity to Scotland. Right from the start, SCDI has been about thinking and doing.
Our achievements include Scotland’s first and largest industrial estate at Hillingdon, which was to prove crucial to the war effort, followed by the 1938 Empire Exhibition showcasing Scottish industry to the world and attracting more than 12 million visitors. By the 1960s we had organised the first export mission to the USSR and by the 1970s we were the first organisation from Western Europe to visit communist China.
We produced our first report on the Scottish economy in 1961 and our policy work has continued since then, helping to influence critical decisions and thinking in Scotland about infrastructure investment, economic and industrial opportunities and to support education and employability.
Thirty years on our latest report looks at the opportunity for Scotland’s nascent climate technologies cluster to help us achieve our net-zero targets in Scotland, while creating new quality job and export
The common thread in our work is stimulating thinking about the big strategic challenges and opportunities facing Scotland but also doing this in collaboration with others across the spectrum of industry and civic life in Scotland.
In that respect our purpose as an organisation to support sustainable and inclusive economic growth has remained consistent since our inception. Purpose is very much at the centre of our thinking now as we look ahead to the future. Our Making a Good Living economic vision recommended making Scotland a global hub for purposeful businesses.
Over the coming year we are delighted to be supporting the establishment of a short-life Business Purpose Commission for Scotland. Members of the commission will look for ways to promote more purposeful business and better corporate governance in Scotland to improve business performance
and increase investment.
We will also be focusing on Scotland’s other grand challenges in our work. In the autumn we will host a round table with industry and government aimed at stimulating collaboration on ways to accelerate the unlocking of data and technology in the health and social care sectors, underpinning Scotland’s health recovery.
Productivity and innovation remain at the forefront of what we do. Half of the businesses attending our productivity clubs have since made a positive change in their business as a result. We are partnering with the best small business speakers and business support organisations in Scotland to bring forward a new programme of clubs this autumn focusing on pressing business needs, including digitisation, net zero, leadership, cybersecurity, and workforce development.
We will continue our commitment to Scotland’s future engineers, computer programmers and scientists through our Young Engineers and Science Clubs. Now in its 35th year, our work with a network of more than 1,600 schools in Scotland is helping to engage young people to develop new skills, learn how to work with other and to inspire them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, maths, or related careers. It is their thinking and ideas which will develop the solutions to Scotland’s challenges in the future. We will of course continue to build our work around clean growth over the coming year. Cop26 is a showcase for Scotland in this respect but it will be after the event that the hard work starts, to deliver a net-zero future for Scotland.
That’s why we are holding our annual economic forum shortly after. On November 18 and 19 we are looking forward to getting together with our members and an exciting line-up of speakers, including Dame Sharon White, chair of the John Lewis Partnership, to debate the big issues on Scotland’s agenda:
purpose, our place in the world, clean growth, healthy communities and how we become even more innovative and productive as a nation to allow us to raise living standards for all. We hope many individuals and organisations will join us to continue the debate and look forward to another 90 years of working together for the good of Scotland.