The Forum provides a platform for dialogue, discussion and debate on the key levers required to strengthen and grow Scotland's economy in an emerging environment. The SCDI Forum is the leading policy and networking event in the Scottish business and economic calendar and has a clear agenda - to stimulate economic growth for Scotland. Reflective of SCDI's unique membership it brings together senior representatives drawn from across the public, private and social economy sectors.

Thursday 16 & Friday 17 March 2017
Venue: RBS HQ Gogarburn, Edinburgh                                           #scdiforum


The operating systems for the Scottish economy will soon be fundamentally overhauled - changes which will place an even higher premium on sustaining and generating increasing economic growth.

Following the EU Referendum, the UK will trigger its notice to leave and negotiations will commence, and this will substantially re-orientate our relationships with Europe and with the global economy. The Scottish Parliament will start to make decisions with new economic and fiscal powers and responsibilities, and the Scottish economy will become a fully shared competency for the Scottish and UK Governments.

At the same time as these transitions, changing labour markets, digitalisation and low carbon will drive the transformation of our economy at an accelerating pace. These political and economic transitions will all significantly increase the potential risks and rewards for the economy, government and businesses.

The SCDI Forum 2017 'Brave New Worlds? - Economic Growth & Wealth Creation' explored this changing context and the priorities for the Scottish economy in these transitions to raise our Productivity, Innovation and Internationalisation, underpinned by modern Infrastructure. It focused on what does and will drive economic growth and create wealth - and how Scotland can best position itself to support competitiveness, investment and entrepreneurship.

This, our 46th Forum, considered the right balance between businesses focusing on growth in increasingly competitive markets and the benefits which this generates, and government expectations of developing the role and responsibilities of businesses in achieving wider economic, social and environmental outcomes. With the UK and Scottish governments re-emphasising the importance of industrial strategy and inclusive growth, it discussed how these can best support sectors and regions to stimulate productivity improvements, and encourage the transition in the Scottish economy 'from Fragile to Agile'.  

We were joined by an exciting range of Speakers for Forum 2017 - details and Programme information can be accessed via the right hand menu.

The Forum programme consisted of three main sessions
 - an Executive Symposium*, Forum Dinner & the Forum 2017 conference:

SCDI Forum 2017 - Friday 17 March (07.30 for 08.30 - 16.00)
A full day conference featuring plenary sessions, interactive breakout groups and networking opportunities.

Forum Dinner - Thursday 16 March (18.15 - 22.30)
The Forum Dinner this year featured keynote addresses from the Rt Hon Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell MP and Cabinet Secretary Keith Brown MSP and provided an excellent opportunity for networking and informal dialogue with delegates.

Executive Symposium - Thursday 16 March (12.00 - 17.00)
The Executive Symposium was a pre-conference session aimed at high-level debate and discussion on the main themes, attended by senior stakeholders, partners and economic experts.
*There were a limited number of places available for delegates who wish to participate. The Executive Symposium is a stand-alone session, which involved an additional booking element outwith the main Forum Dinner & Friday Conference. For further information on the Executive Symposium session please contact Nicola Seeley.

The costs for participation were as follows:

Forum Delegate (included Thursday 16 March Dinner & full day Friday 17 March Conference, conference meals/receptions & materials)

  • SCDI Member:  £380 plus VAT
  • Non Member:  £430 plus VAT

Day Delegate Only (Friday 17 March Conference only, with materials, catering & refreshments)

  • SCDI Member:  £295 plus VAT
  • Non Member:  £345 plus VAT

Forum Delegate with Accom** (included Thursday 16 March Dinner, overnight stay & full day Friday 17 March Conference, conference meals/receptions & materials)

  • SCDI Member:  £510 plus VAT
  • Non Member:  £560 plus VAT

** There were a limited number of places available which included 1 night's accommodation on Thursday 16 March 2017 at the Norton House Hotel, which is approx.a 5 minute drive from the Forum venue. This option included a shuttle-bus transfer to/from the hotel and the Forum Dinner & Conference.

Please Note: Full payment must be received in advance of Forum 2017. Please note that cancellations cannot be refunded after Mon 6 Feb 2017, but a substitute delegate would be welcome in place.


Our plans for the SCDI Forum 2018 in spring next year are underway and further details will be available soon. If you would like to be involved & engage with Partnership opportunities for our Forum 2018, in the first instance please contact SCDI's Director of Commercial Operations, Vince McKeown.



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* Please note that delegate email addresses and twitter handles will be reproduced in the conference delegate list. If you do not wish these to appear, please tick this box.

Delegate Type


Forum Delegate (includes Thursday 16 March Dinner & full day Friday 17 March Conference) - SCDI Member £380.00 plus VAT
Forum Delegate (includes Thursday 16 March Dinner & full day Friday 17 March Conference) - Non Member £430.00 plus VAT
Day Delegate Only (Friday 17 March Conference only) - SCDI Member £295.00 plus VAT
Day Delegate Only (Friday 17 March Conference only) - Non Member £345.00 plus VAT
Forum Delegate with Accom** (includes Thursday 16 March Dinner, overnight stay & full day Friday 17 March Conference) - SCDI Member £510.00 plus VAT
Forum Delegate with Accom** (includes Thursday 16 March Dinner, overnight stay & full day Friday 17 March Conference) - Non Member £560.00 plus VAT
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Speakers at SCDI Forum 2017 'Brave New Worlds?' included senior business & political representatives:

  • Lewis Beck - Senior Director, Head of Workplace Advisory, EMEA, CBRE Ltd
  • Mike Blackburn OBE - Chair, Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership; & BT North West Regional Director
  • Suzie Bowman - Senior Service Development Executive, Skills Development Scotland
  • Stephen Boyle - Chief Economist, Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Keith Brown MSP - Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs & Fair Work, The Scottish Government
  • Richard Davies - Economist, Chief of Staff at the LSE Growth Commission & former Chair, Council of Economic Advisers, HM Treasury
  • Rona Dougall - Broadcaster & Journalist; Presenter STV 'Scotland Tonight' - (Forum 2017 Facilitator)
  • Naomi Eisenstadt CB - Independent Advisor on Poverty & Inequality to The Scottish Government
  • Paul Garner - Head of Future Business Technology Research Practice, BT Research & Innovation
  • Mark Garnier MP - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Dept.for International Trade, UK Government
  • Lisa Gilbert - Chief Marketing Officer, IBM UK & Ireland
  • Angus Gillespie - Vice President CO2, Shell International Petroleum Company 
  • Alexander Holt - Head of CivTech, The Scottish Government
  • Donald MacBrayne - Business Manager, Scottish Water Horizons
  • Michael Moore - Senior Adviser, PwC; & former Secretary of State for Scotland
  • The Rt Hon David Mundell MP - Secretary of State for Scotland, UK Government
  • Prof.Anton Muscatelli - Principal & Vice-Chancellor, University of Glasgow & Chair, Standing Council on Europe, The Scottish Government
  • Diane Nicol - Member, Review Panel, Taylor Review of Employment Practices in the Modern Economy & Partner, Pinsent Masons
  • Nicholas C. Niggli - Head - Economic, Finance, Science & Innovation Section, Embassy of Switzerland in the UK; Chairman, Association of Economic Representatives in London; formerly World Trade Organisation
  • David Reid - Regional Head of Sales for Buildings & Infrastructure in UK/Europe/Middle East, Jacobs
  • Lady Susan Rice CBE - President, SCDI
  • Prof.Graeme Roy - Director, The Fraser of Allander Institute, University of Strathclyde
  • Mairi Rule - Senior Service Development Executive, Skills Development Scotland
  • Lynda Towers - Director of Public Law, Morton Fraser; formerly Solicitor to the Scottish Parliament
  • Andy Wells - Head of Property, The Crown Estate Scotland Portfolio
  • Prof.Richard Williams OBE - Principal & Vice-Chancellor, Heriot-Watt University



The SCDI Forum 2017 Programme consisted of three main sessions: Executive Symposium; Forum Dinner; Forum 2017 conference

EXECUTIVE SYMPOSIUM* (Thursday 16 March, 12.00 - 17.00)
The Executive Symposium is a thought-provoking and energetic prelude to Forum, aimed at high level debate and discussion. It featured sessions on: Scotland's Economy & Finances and Brexit & Scotland.

(*NB: The Symposium is a stand-alone session, which involved an additional booking element outwith the main Forum Dinner & Friday Conference)

12.00 - 13.00  Registration & Networking Lunch

13.00 - 14.30  Scotland's Economic Performance & Finances

Welcome - Brendan Dick - Chair, SCDI

Scotland's economic growth continues to be weak and faces significant headwinds and uncertainties. With the introduction of a new fiscal framework, the Scottish Parliament has greater powers to influence economic performance. However, small variations in growth will, over a relatively short period of time, have significant implications for public spending - on the upside or, if growth continues to be relatively weak compared to the rest of the UK, the downside.
This session featured a conversation on these big issues for the Scottish economy and finances. How could Scotland revive its productivity and economic growth, develop more widespread economic and social prosperity, and improve its long-term fiscal sustainability?

  • Stephen Boyle - Chief Economist, The Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Professor Graeme Roy - Director, The Fraser of Allander Institute, University of Strathclyde
  • Discussion Session

14.30 - 15.00  Networking Break

15.00 - 17.00  Brexit & Scotland

As the UK Government invokes Article 50, and following its White Paper on 'The United Kingdom's exit from, and new partnership with, the European Union' and the Scottish Government's position paper Scotland's Place in Europe, this session will discuss the issues for Scotland.
How might Brexit affect the Scottish economy and how might negative impacts be minimised or avoided? What are the opportunities? How might it change reserved and devolved responsibilities and powers, and existing and new laws which affect the ways in which we live and work and businesses operate? What are the priorities for the EU and Member States, and how are negotiations likely to develop? How does the rest of the world view Brexit, what is the experience of European countries outwith the EU and what are the prospects for the UK, especially in securing "free trade" with the EU and "ambitious" new trade agreements with other countries?

  • Professor Anton Muscatelli - Chair, Standing Council on Europe, The Scottish Government; and Principal & Vice-Chancellor, University of Glasgow
  • Lynda Towers - Director of Public Law, Morton Fraser; formerly Solicitor to the Scottish Parliament
  • Nicholas Niggli - Head - Economic, Finance, Science & Innovation Section, Embassy of Switzerland in the UK; Chairman, Association of Economic Representatives in London
  • Discussion Session

SCDI - Symposium Closing Remarks

17.00  Symposium Concludes 

FORUM 2017 DINNER (Thursday 16 March, 18.15 - 22.30)
The Forum Dinner provides an excellent opportunity for networking and informal dialogue with fellow delegates.

The Rt Hon David Mundell MP, The Secretary of State for Scotland, UK Government and Keith Brown MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs & Fair Work, The Scottish Government jointly appeared on our Common Economic Platform at the Forum 2017 Dinner.

This provided an opportunity to engage directly with both governments. Issues which were raised and discussed included Brexit and Scotland, and action to improve productivity, innovation and internationalisation, including the UK Government's Green Paper on Building an Industrial Strategy and the Scottish Government's ongoing Enterprise & Skills Review.

18.15 - 19.00  Welcome Reception

19.00 - 19.10  Welcome - SCDI

19.10 - 19.25  Keynote Address - The Rt Hon David Mundell MP, The Secretary of State for Scotland

19.25 - 19.40  Keynote Address - Keith Brown MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs & Fair Work

19.40 - 21.45  Forum Dinner

21.45 - 22.15  Q&A & Discussion Session - Facilitated by Lady Susan Rice CBE, President, SCDI

22.15  Dinner Concludes

FORUM 2017 (Friday 17 March, 07.30 for 8.30 - 16.00)
A full day conference featuring plenary sessions, interactive breakout discussion groups and networking opportunities.

07.30 - 08.30  Registration & Networking Breakfast

08.30 - 08.35  Forum 2017 - Facilitated by Rona Dougall - Broadcaster & Journalist; Presenter STV 'Scotland Tonight'


  • Brendan Dick - Chair, SCDI

08.35 - 09.05  Opening Keynote - Growth: A New Chapter

  • Richard Davies - Economist, Chief of Staff at the LSE Growth Commission & former Chair, Council of Economic Advisers, HM Treasury
  • Q&A Session

The LSE Growth Commission, which brings together many of the UK's leading economists and business leaders, will shortly publish its Growth Manifesto, UK Growth: A New Chapter. Following the EU referendum, the report will set out authoritative and evidence-based recommendations for the policies and institutions that can deliver a forward looking and open UK, addressing areas of weakness and building on strengths to achieve long-term, inclusive and sustainable growth.
What is the UK's economic future including its relationship with the EU? What is the future for financial services? What is the role of industrial policy? What are the new developments in labour markets? SCDI's 2013 Forum featured a presentation on the LSE Growth Commission's first report and the 2017 Forum will be the first opportunity to discuss the new Manifesto in Scotland.

09.05 - 10.05   Industrial Strategy - The Business of Change

The productivity gap with many of our economic competitors weakens longterm growth and living standards. A more productive, better balanced economy is an essential priority for businesses, places and society. This will require investment in skills, infrastructure and innovation. In competitor countries, industrial strategy, backing business leadership and a long-term view on change and investment with active government policies, is often key to success. This approach is now being developed in the UK and Scotland and this session will offer three business perspectives on changes which we need to drive - in labour markets, the energy challenge and a transition to a low carbon economy, and the path to widespread digitalisation.
Which technologies and market changes will most transform the economy, work and places? How can we build on our strengths, successfully diversify and turn around underperformance to increase competitiveness? Where is business leadership and industrial strategy needed? How can a more stable and competitive policy framework and longer-term perspective in government and industry on investment be delivered? How can we unlock the capacity of a new generation of leaders, managers, workers and workplaces to become more innovative, smarter and productive? How can we maximise the industrial opportunities for the economy by leading rather than following innovations?

  • Angus Gillespie - Vice President CO2, Shell International Petroleum Company
  • Lisa Gilbert - Chief Marketing Officer, IBM UK & Ireland
  • Lewis Beck - Senior Director, Head of Workplace Advisory - EMEA, CBRE Ltd
  • Discussion Session

10.05 - 10.40   Networking Break

10.40 - 11.45   Inclusive Growth - Sharing in Success

Technological change and globalisation have generated increasing wealth, but living standards for some have been stagnant or in decline - with the gaps between prosperous people and places, the 'just about managing' and those in poverty particularly wide in the UK. There has been significant growth in self-employment, including people working flexibly in the 'Gig Economy' - short-term, on-demand work. The explosion of disruptive business models across sectors, based on new ways of working and technology, offers benefits for consumers, but also creates a winner-takes-all-dynamic, and automation is expected substantially change the labour market. With this social insecurity, and concerns about productivity and tax receipts, inclusive growth is a priority.
How can nations and regions support people and places to reach their potential and create wealth - especially as technology transforms the economy? What should be the roles and responsibilities of employers and government? What is next for city region and regional growth agendas? How should employment practices change in order to keep pace with modern business models?

  • Naomi Eisenstadt CB - Independent Advisor on Poverty & Inequality to The Scottish Government
  • Mike Blackburn OBE - Chair, Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership; & BT North West Regional Director
  • Diane Nicol - Member, Review Panel, UK Government ('Taylor') Review of Employment Practices in the Modern Economy; & Partner, Pinsent Masons
  • Discussion Session

Transition to Breakout Groups

11.55 - 13.00  Forum 2017 Breakout Groups included 3 sessions on:*

Smart Places, Smart People - A to D...Looking Towards a Digital Nation

  • Paul Garner - Head of Future Business Technology Research Practice, BT Research & Innovation
  • Alexander Holt - Head of CivTech, The Scottish Government

Natural Capital - Beauty Spots & Bottom Lines...Making Things Last

  • Donald MacBrayne - Business Manager, Scottish Water Horizons
  • Andy Wells - Head of Property, The Crown Estate Scotland Portfolio

Skills For The Fourth Industrial Revolution

  • Suzie Bowman - Senior Service Development Executive, Skills Development Scotland
  • Mairi Rule - Senior Service Development Executive, Skills Development Scotland

(*please see below the main Programme outline for summaries of the 3 Breakout Sessions)

13.00 - 14.00   Networking Lunch
During the Networking breaks at Forum 2017, we had a live interactive artwork being created by illustrator Tony McKay & the creative team at MadeBrave with input from delegates, speakers & Partners around the theme of 'Brand Scotland - What Does Amazing Look Like?'

14.00 - 15.05   Higher Value - Raising Our Sights

The Scottish economy has many strengths, such as some world-class businesses and sectors, cities and environment, and educational institutions. However, our productivity is weak and a relatively small number of companies account for most of our exports. Brexit will fundamentally change our trading relationships with the EU and the rest of the world. Global competition is growing and businesses in other countries, such as Germany through its Industrie 4.0 strategy, are working together to transform their strategy, products, and working practices and skills.
How will the industrial strategy support more companies to start or increase exporting and improve support for inward investment? What are the prospects for Britain to agree a free trade deal with the EU, be "a global leader for free trade" and continue to attract international skills and talent? How can we get more of our businesses and sectors, and people and places, performing at world-leading levels? How can we optimise the contribution of universities to the delivery of an effective industrial strategy? How can they - working with government, industry and the wider education system - support higher productivity in more places and people?
For what do we want the Scottish economy to be famous?

  • Mark Garnier MP - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Dept.for International Trade, UK Government
  • Prof. Richard Williams OBE - Principal & Vice-Chancellor, Heriot-Watt University
  • David Reid - Regional Head of Sales for Buildings & Infrastructure in UK/Europe/Middle East, Jacobs
  • Discussion Session

15.05 - 15.30  Closing Keynote - The 'Great Disorientation' - Charting A Way Forward

  • Michael Moore - Senior Adviser, PwC; & former Secretary of State for Scotland

Policy makers and business leaders alike are grappling with a pace of change which few have witnessed in their lifetime. In an age disrupted by the global megatrends (amongst them technological revolutions and climate change) and the reverberations of the financial crisis, further exacerbated by changes in society and growing demands on the public services, how do politicians and businesses set a course for the decade to come?
Navigating these challenges is hard enough, but is further complicated by the reality, as the Brexit vote and President Trump's election illustrate, that this great dis-orientation has political consequences. And all of these problems are compounded by breakdowns in trust between citizens and those in positions of authority, whether in politics or business.
So, how big are these challenges, who is responsible for taking them on and how do business and political leaders take the public with them as they chart the way forward?

Discussion Session

15.35 - 15.45   Forum 2017 - Closing Remarks 

  • Claire Mack - Director of Policy & Place, SCDI

15.45    Forum Closes

*Forum 2017 - BREAKOUT SESSIONS (Summaries):

Taking Policy Into Practice
Forum 2017 delegates had the opportunity to participate in one of these 3 Breakout Sessions, providing the opportunity to discuss & help determine how we, collectively as an economy, facilitate & support economic growth & wealth creation. (Speakers in each session are noted in the main Programme above).

Smart Places, Smart People - A to D...Looking Towards a Digital Nation
Creative use of technology will help us to meet the challenges faced by society in the future. Digital technology will become part of the solution for a number of issues - from a lower growth economy to helping us cope with the demands of demographic changes. Digital technology and platforms are integral to government, business and public services and form an increasingly pivotal role in the lives of everyone. SCDI, in partnership with BT, ScotlandIS and The Royal Society of Edinburgh, has explored a number of facets of the digital journey Scotland is currently on through its research reports 'Digital Solutions to the Productivity Puzzle' (link) and 'Smart Citizens, Smart City Regions' (link). Digitalisation of industries and sectors started some time ago. We have seen many new, innovative products and services that have brought society greater convenience and efficiency through their development. There are a number of concerns around technology, data gathering and sharing and automation that make headlines - however there are a number of positive outcomes as a result of digital innovation and progress.

This Session: explored how Scotland will develop as a digital nation, hearing from two key speakers who discussed the next steps on Scotland's digital journey. With experience on the panel from both the infrastructure and innovation side, the session sought to think about what the potential is for Scotland as a leader in the digital space. Our panel members and participants sought to answer questions around:

• What we have learned so far on our digital journey?
• How do we keep pace with technological development that is constant?
• How should Scotland approach leadership in digital transformation?
• How can Scotland keep the momentum of successes like Skyscanner and FanDuel going?
• How do we create excitement around digital transformation to engage the citizens of Scotland?


Natural Capital - Beauty Spots & Bottom Lines...Making Things Last
Businesses know that our current use of natural resources is unsustainable. Change is happening but not fast enough. Given international agreements for action, how do we make more urgent progress? Commercial interests and the natural world are often viewed in isolation. The former can exploit the latter, with environmental concerns frequently seen as an inconvenient obstacle to business success. However, our stock of natural resources is an essential underpinning for the Scottish economy, including for many of the goods and services which we produce. Protecting those assets and making more sustainable use of resources, including 'circular' approaches, makes sound business sense. As The Scottish Government refreshes its Climate Change Plan and Energy Strategy, businesses are being challenged to step up and work together. Current economic and financial challenges can make driving change harder, but even more important to longer-term success. What should we do?

This Session: presented case studies from members of the Scottish Forum on Natural Capital on actions in which Scotland is showing leadership. The Crown Estate, which manages a diverse rural, marine and urban property portfolio, explained how it is incorporating natural capital accounting into its decisions and exploring ways to help businesses, including farmers, to do the same. Scottish Water, one of Scotland's largest users of electricity, explained how it is using its resources and networks to support the development of a sustainable low carbon economy and stimulate higher innovation and growth, such as the UK's first projects to recover heat from waste water. Our panel members and participants sought to answer questions around:

• How can businesses step up their action on sustainability and become carbon neutral?
• How can your business change its decision-making, investment and supply chain management to take into account natural capital and advantage of the business and reputational benefits?
• What are the key opportunities to accelerate growth of the circular economy?
• How do we take Scotland's natural capital and low carbon innovations to a world stage?
• Are there opportunities to attract private sector investment into natural asset projects?


Skills For The Fourth Industrial Revolution
We are on the brink of a Fourth Industrial Revolution - what does this mean for our jobs, skills and society? The world of work is changing. A Fourth Industrial Revolution - characterised by technological innovation and fusion - is transforming entire systems of production, management and labour markets. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and the Internet of Things will radically change our economy and society. We need to skill people for an environment of constant change and development. We are in the era of the 'multi-career lifetime' - for those entering and for many of those in the labour market. Decision-making by government, businesses and people about skills investment is increasingly complex. Therefore, we need more deliberation and consideration before we take simplistic decisions. It is clear that a new approach will be needed. With the development of the apprenticeship family and skills pathways, opportunities are opening up for a greater involvement by employers in skills development.

This Session: discussed the changes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in a Scottish context, considered implications for a pathway of skills development and captured thoughts on potential changes required by the Scottish skills system. Our panel members and participants sought to answer questions around:

• What skills will businesses need in the future?
• How do we develop a resilient labour force in the face of constant change?
• What does this mean for the learning system in the years ahead? 


Conference Materials

During the networking sessions at the SCDI Forum 2017, we had a live interactive artwork being created by illustrator Tony McKay & the creative team at MadeBrave around the theme of 'Brand Scotland - What Does Amazing Look Like?'

The finished artwork is below and can also be viewed here - delegates, speakers and Partners can perhaps identify their own input from the day!



Event Partners

SCDI would like to thank our Forum 2017 Partners for their much appreciated support.

BT Scotland

BT Scotland is at the heart of connected communications for all of Scotland. Our activities place Scotland's people at the forefront of worldwide communication. Our networks, products and services support millions of Scots at home, at work, in health, education, government and the community. Our high-speed fibre broadband network reaches more than two million Scottish households and businesses, with nearly 90% of Scotland now able to attain a speed of 24Mbps+. Our EE mobile business is rolling out 4G speeds across Scotland and set to pass 80% coverage this year. We're a leader in corporate responsibility, using technology to fight digital exclusion and improve tech literacy and skills, through links with education, charities and businesses. More than 45,000 Scottish schoolchildren have benefited from our Barefoot Computing partnership, which works with teachers to boost their IT confidence, and we're a long-term supporter of SCDI's Young Engineers & Science Clubs in Scotland. BT in Scotland will continue to develop and deliver networks and services nationwide to shape a better, brighter future. Follow @BTScotlandNews

The Crown Estate Scotland Portfolio

The Crown Estate is an independent, progressive commercial business created by Act of Parliament. Our role is to make sure that the land and property we invest in and manage for the nation are sustainably worked, developed and enjoyed to deliver the best value over the long term. 100% of our annual revenue profit is paid to the UK Government. In Scotland we manage four rural estates, mineral and salmon fishing rights, about half of the coastal foreshore and almost all of the seabed. We have a significant role in supporting aquaculture, marine leisure, ports & harbours and offshore renewable energy. At the heart of how we work is an astute, considered and collaborative approach that helps us create success for our business and for those we work with. In everything we do, we are guided by our values - commercialism, integrity and stewardship. Follow @CrownEstateScot


IBM is a global cloud platform and cognitive solutions company, which has continually evolved over the past century to remain at the forefront of technological innovation. Our capabilities in data and analytics, cloud, mobile, social and security have helped the UK evolve to become one of the world's most digitally advanced nations. This digital revolution empowers us and our clients to gather and analyse data in ways that have never been possible before - helping UK organisations unlock new insights and usher in a new era of cognitive business. Follow @IBM_UK_news


Jacobs is one of the largest global providers of technical, professional and construction services with 54,000 employees in over 230 locations worldwide. Scotland is not only home to our European and Middle East headquarters, but to over 1,200 staff who work with a broad range of governmental, industrial and commercial organisations to deliver projects both in Scotland - such as Queensferry Crossing - and across our global network of operations.

The Law Society of Scotland

The Law Society is the professional body for Scottish solicitors and aims to lead and support a successful and respected legal profession. The legal sector in Scotland now contributes over £1billion to the Scottish economy each year. It is responsible for over 20,000 highly skilled jobs and the services provided by solicitors are critical to the smooth running of the economy, not least in the property market and helping people to set up their own businesses. The growing numbers of in-house solicitors also make a major contribution to the success of the companies and organisations that employ them. Many of the sectors upon which Scotland depends so heavily - energy, financial services, the life sciences, food & drink - all rely on high quality, expert legal services to thrive, whether they are provided in house or through private practice. Put simply, a successful Scotland needs a successful Scottish legal profession. Follow us on twitter @lawscot

Royal Bank of Scotland

Royal Bank of Scotland has played an instrumental role in supporting Scotland's economic and industrial development throughout our history.
Royal Bank of Scotland has paved the way in banking since it was established. From the world's first overdraft, and the first house purchase loan by a UK bank, to the first fully-fledged internet banking service, the bank has a history of making life easier for its customers. The bank is committed to serving communities and putting the interests of customers first. It's with its customers everyday for all the things that matter. Follow @RBS

Scottish Water

Scottish Water provides vital water and waste water services, essential to daily life, to
2.49million households and 152,000 business premises across Scotland.
In our current six-year capital programme we will deliver £3.5billion of investment across Scotland which will see further improvements to drinking water quality, protecting the environment, and also delivery of growth projects to support the Scottish economy. Follow @scottish_water

Shell UK

Shell is a global group of energy and petrochemical companies who seek to help meet global energy demand in a responsible way. Our presence in the UK, including Scotland, is important to our global business. Our upstream business operates out of Aberdeen. Shell provides the UK with reliable, secure energy and operates assets that provide 13% of the UK's total oil & gas supply. Shell's main contribution to the energy challenge is to find and produce oil & gas and to process these into useful products and useable energy while reducing CO2 emissions. We see 4 distinct areas: natural gas, carbon capture & storage, biofuels and the energy efficiency of our operations.
Reducing CO2 emissions from fossil fuels in the power generating sector economically must be a priority. With Shell's leading position in liquefied natural gas and new technologies in recovering natural gas, we can supply gas to replace coal in power generation. Modern gas plants emit half the CO2 of new coal plants. Natural gas can provide the cheapest and fastest way to reduce CO2 emissions over the next 10 years. Shell's capability and R&D programmes in CCS can take this further, working with others to overcome challenges. Meeting growing demand for cleaner, lower CO2 transport fuels includes a range of approaches, including vehicles powered by biofuels or hydrogen fuel cells. Follow @Shell

Skills Development Scotland

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) is committed to building a Scotland which champions fair work practices and a diverse workforce. Working with our partners, we strive to ensure employers have the right skills at the right time in high performing, fair and equal workplaces, and that every individual has the skills and confidence to get a job and progress in the workplace, achieving their full potential. Our support for employers includes tailored skills advice and funding for workforce development, with 25,000 new Modern Apprentices starting each year, rising to 30,000 by 2020. Our services are further shaped by the Scottish Government's Career Information Advice and Guidance (CIAG) Strategy and the Youth Employment Strategy, which aligns with the recommendations of the Commission for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce (DSYW). SDS is also at the forefront of enhancing the responsiveness of the skills and learning environment so it meets the needs of employers and the economy. We build skills intelligence at a regional, local and sectoral level that informs design, delivery, and investment in services for employers. Follow @skillsdevscot


STV is Scotland's leading digital media business, commercially focused and creatively led. The STV Family provides choice to consumers and advertisers by serving content across multiple platforms: on-air on STV and on our soon to launch new channel, STV2; on demand on the STV Player and online across
STV brings Scottish consumers first class programming from high quality drama showstoppers and soaps such as Broadchurch and Coronation Street, to the best in appointment to view entertainment, sport and relevant and engaging Scottish content with STV News, Scotland Tonight and Live at Five - STV is the only place in Scotland to see these favourites. In 2016, 47 of the top 50 commercial programmes were on STV. STV is focused on maximising advertiser reach and targeted engagement through impactful communications solutions. 1 in 3 Scots are now registered with STV and 78% interact with 2 or more services a month. Follow @WeAreSTV

Associate Partner


Pulsant's core business is datacentres, cloud hosting services and managed networks, supported by a team of professionals with a vast range of industry knowledge. Follow @PulsantUK



Event Blog


Work-Based Learning For The Future

Jonathan Clark, Director of Service Development & Innovation, Skills Development Scotland

Thursday 16 March 2017 

SDS-new-ident-Jan15Change may be constant, but the pace of change is unprecedented. New technical platforms and business models are transforming the world in which we live and work. The future of work is simultaneoudly one of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing industry, government and the workforce. New jobs are emerging and many existing jobs are being transformed, or in some instances disappearing completely. 

As well as knowledge and technical skills, dynamic economies need individuals who are adaptive and resilient and who can solve complex problems: so called 'T'shaped individuals. 

New models of learning are required to build a skilled and enterprising workforce. It is because of this challenge – the need to develop new skills for a changing world of work – that the new Centre for Work-based Learning in Scotland was established. Launched during Scottish Apprenticeship Week, this partnership between Skills Development Scotland, the University of Strathclyde, Heriot Watt University and Robert Gordon University looks to respond to that challenge effectively. 

At its heart will be the development of a body of action research and evaluation that will shape the development of future practice. Work based learning blends knowledge, skill and capability through new models of learning involving industry in delivery. 

The new Centre for Work-Based Learning will build international networks, including with universities and employer organisations, to learn from the experience abroad and strategic thinking about skills, leading to strategic actions to improve the skills system in Scotland. 

The way people work now is very different now from how it was only ten years ago and will continue to change as the barriers between traditional industries and job roles are broken down. This will create more emphasis on continuing development and lifelong learning. 

Work based learning provides opportunities for people with different styles of learning and has the potential to widen access and provide more coherent journeys through the education system. 

Scotland has lots of strengths, but we need to be open to evolving our approach to supporting and developing high performing individuals and businesses if we are to compete with the best economies.



Sustainable Business Measures The Natural World

Andy Wells, Head of Property, The Crown Estate Scotland Portfolio

Monday 13 March 2017

 F17 - Crown Estate Scot Portfolio logo


Commercial interests and the natural world are often viewed in isolation. The former can exploit the other, with environmental concerns all too frequently seen as an inconvenient obstacle to business success.

Thankfully, this situation is now changing with a growing movement to understand better how business relies on nature. Natural Capital is the stock of natural resources - including soils, air, water and all living organisms - which provide people with a wide range of goods and services and which underpin our economy and society. Applied to business, it means that alongside financial profit and loss, positive or negative changes in natural assets are also recorded. Businesses identify the natural assets they use or affect within their supply chain, and include them in investment planning and risk analysis. 

The concept is not necessarily new, but what is exciting is the growing global appreciation within business that our consumption of natural resources is not sustainable and needs to be better represented on balance sheets. 

As a commercial business, The Crown Estate manages a diverse property portfolio, working with and facilitating opportunities for land-based businesses, marine enterprises, renewable energy developers and urban property. 

We take a long-term view and seek to ensure that the resources on which our business depends are used sustainably. Valuing and safeguarding the environment is vitally important to the long-term interests of those who earn a living from the land and sea. In a world threatened by climate change, the natural flood defences provided by forests or the pollination of crops by insects are examples of where sustainable businesses depend on protecting natural capital. 

The Crown Estate has developed an approach which incorporates elements of natural capital accounting and seeks to directly measure the value of our "total contribution". It provides us with a deeper understanding of the impact of our decisions on all our capitals - including natural capital. An understanding of these capitals and their inter-connectivity is increasingly integrated into our thinking and decision-making processes.

In Scotland, we are exploring - in partnership with land management organisations and agencies - ways to help develop methodologies and tools to help farmers and other land managers to engage with the natural capital agenda. Agriculture, forestry and game management are economically important rural industries that contribute significantly to the rural economy. How these activities are carried out can have a direct impact on our natural capital. While great efforts have been made to improve the environmental performance of land management, there are still concerns that over time there is a net depreciation, particularly in relation to soil health, biodiversity loss, water quality and greenhouse gas emissions from farming and peatland management. 

We hope this work will raise awareness of the evolving natural capital agenda and provide mechanisms which drive genuine benefits for Scotland's communities, economy and environment. 

Sustainability lies at the heart of our decision making. This is not about putting a price on nature or being able to financially value everything. The natural capital agenda provides a framework for developing accounting mechanisms for capital flows beyond the financial and is becoming an increasingly accepted way for business to think further ahead, better connect with and understand the natural world. 

Our collective future depends on progressive and forward thinking businesses grasping this mantle. 



Investing In Infrastructure

Alan R. Thomson, Head of Corporate Relations, Scottish Water

Friday 24 February 2017

Scottish-Water-logo-webScottish Water provides vital water and waste water services to 2.46m households and business premises. 

Customers continue to receive drinking water through their taps which is of the highest ever quality, while benefitting from average household charges which, in 2017/18, will be £38 lower than the average in England and Wales. 

We continue to invest significantly to improve water infrastructure and services across Scotland which supports thousands of vital jobs in the Scottish economy. We have achieved record environmental performance, helping to protect Scotland's coastal and river waters. 

Work has also been taking place to accommodate growth in local communities to facilitate new developments. 90% of Scottish Water's spend is through Scottish based suppliers, with 79% of our supply chain being SME businesses. 

We are now delivering our £3.5bn 2015-21 investment programme and have developed a new delivery model which involves working in partnership with three new alliances to deliver maintenance and improvements to existing assets. We have also developed rural frameworks allowing us to work with smaller contractors at a local level. 

Between now and 2021 we are planning to deliver even higher drinking water quality, together with improved customer service and enhanced environmental performance. We have a firm focus on ensuring our assets and networks are increasingly resilient and responsive to the needs of customers and the possible impacts of climate change. This includes a £120m project to improve the resilience of Ayrshire's water by installing 30 miles of new mains. 

We also continue to support the development of a low carbon economy including initiatives such as food waste recycling, the UK's first heat from sewage scheme and a growing renewables portfolio - helping to reduce costs and generating energy to help run our treatment works.