The Bank's Chairman, Willie Watt

The Bank's Chairman, Willie Watt reflects on our Annual Results for 22-23.

Following our launch in November 2020, our capacity as an organisation to deliver insight, investment and impact has grown significantly.

As an institution we are moving out of our start-up phase and are becoming an increasingly established organisation which is delivering solidly against our business plans. 

The three grand challenges that the Bank was established to help address – the climate emergency, place-based inequality and innovation challenges – have formed the basis of a developing portfolio of diverse, innovative investments. 

This year has brought significant economic challenges. High levels of inflation have driven up businesses’ operating costs and impacted upon their supply chains. 

The overall economic climate has been challenging for companies seeking to raise investment. As a development bank with a particular focus on long-term and strategic investment, we have worked to support innovative, growth-oriented businesses to navigate these conditions while delivering on their ambitious business strategies. 

We have worked flexibly when making investments, and in supporting our portfolio of investee companies to realise their growth ambitions and plans. 

Wide spread impact across Scotland

By focussing on the fundamentals of businesses, and taking a long-term view, we have added 13 new investments to our portfolio in Financial Year 22/23, in addition to the 14 investments we held at the start of the year and have extensively supported our investee companies through follow on investments. 

In doing so we have successfully committed £221 million of capital. This investment activity has spanned all our missions, in a range of businesses and projects, and reaches widely across Scotland. 

We have also seen our income increase in this financial year. This is particularly important to us as the Bank moves towards a position of operational financial self-sustainability. 

Growing our revenues, alongside reinvestment of our returns into other businesses and projects, will in turn enable us to build the Bank as a perpetual fund for Scotland. 

Managing risk

Our approach to risk is based on the measured judgement of our team and is considered throughout the investment decision making process. Those who make our investment decisions are driven by the strong sense of purpose we have as a mission focused organisation, including our experienced and independent Board. 

Despite incurring our first investment loss after the end of this financial year, we continue to work towards a positive net return across our portfolio as a whole, demonstrating both responsible and productive stewardship of public capital. 

We are a non-political organisation that is operationally independent of the Scottish Government. We take all our own investment decisions, and as Chair and as a Board we are responsible for the decisions we make. 

Looking forward

I remain excited about the opportunities facing Scotland and the Bank in the coming year. We will continue to support our scaling innovative businesses - a recognised priority in the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation; we will build on the progress we have made on incorporating equality, diversity and inclusion considerations in all of our work; and we will look to realise the economic opportunities of the transition to net zero, and to support businesses in Scotland looking to transition their activities.  

Read our Annual Report and Accounts 22-23.

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