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26 May 2013

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Dick Winchester

Of course Scotland's historic weaknesses of a low business birth rate, low business research and development spend, low innovation, low quality investment and adoption of managerial best practices can be laid at the door of the UK union. I don't see how you can possibility not recognise that.

Everything you mention relies on the availability of finance and the UK's financial centre is London - the City if you will. It's also well understood that the culture of the City has hardly been one that supports funding start-ups or early stage companies particularly if they involve technical risk.

That culture has been tacitly accepted by the UK Govt for at least the past four decades and underpinned by a laissez faire attitude to company ownership. Hence, when all or most of the UK's automotive manufacturing was sold off the Govt's view was that it didn't matter who owned these companies provided the jobs were maintained. This was a sign to the City that they didn't need to invest in industry and particularly start-ups etc at anything but a token level.

It's the main reason behind the fact that on Scotland's own doorstep the vast majority of the sector critical, high value engineering manufacturers are either Norwegian or American and that in renewables the same trend is already apparent although the main players this time are the Germans, Danes, French and Americans.

I would add that of course the UK Govt certainly isn't blameless either. Try reading Malcolm Wick's Energy Security Report that he produced in 2009 for Gordon Brown. It shows the UK having by far the lowest energy R&D funding of all our competitors and one of the reasons given is the small size of the UK energy industry! That is one heck of an admission of failure.

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