Scotland’s new state investment bank, the Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB), is expected to launch before December 2020.
The Scotish government will provide the SNIB with £2 billion in capital over the next decade, fulfilling plans it laid out three years ago.
Willie Watt, the first chair of the SNIB, told the Financial Times that he anticipates the “launch in the final quarter of this year”, adding that he would be “disappointed if it was December”.
August saw the Scotish government set three key “missions” for the SNIB. These included supporting the transition to a net-zero carbon emissions economy, investing to reduce inequality, and promoting innovation to aid health and productivity.
Professor Mariana Mazzucato, of University College London, said: “By adopting a mission-oriented approach to its investments, the bank will be able to play a catalytic role promoting transformational change across the economy.”
Watt confirmed the bank is already looking into investing in clean energy schemes for smaller businesses, as “large companies can finance these projects themselves”.
He added: “For middle-sized and smaller companies, where having a low-carbon source of power might be really important to the brand, we can provide finance that is not currently being provided by the private sector.”
However the bank has been criticised by Ross Brown, professor in entrepreneurship and small business finance at St Andrews University, who says it will not attract the same “smart money” investments of private sector venture capitalists.
He added: “What we need is not a mission-focused bank, we need a productivity-focused bank which tries to help [the] diffusion of innovation across the SME base.
“We have [in Scotland] a lot of family-owned, prosaic food and drink companies with great growth potential, but quite often they need assistance with innovation and finance.”