Sir Ian Wood has called on the public and private sectors to work together to deliver “meaningful” regional economic development around Scotland by copying the north-east model.
The chairman and founder of economic development body Opportunity North East (One) said the rest of Scotland could benefit from the same kind of partnership that was already delivering results in Aberdeen city and shire.
Speaking at a Business in Parliament conference at Holyrood in Edinburgh, he said that for regional economic partnerships to work, they needed a sponsoring agency, clear guidelines and structures, private sector leadership, public-sector partnerships and funding.
All of these were missing across much of Scotland, Sir Ian said, adding: “My challenging proposal is for the private sector across Scotland to emulate what we have done in the north-east of Scotland – establish significant private sector funds to drive development.
“Almost two years in, this model is working and catalysing action, creating new partnerships and leveraging additional investment in sector-specific economic development activity, with the participation and support of the private and public sectors.
“My proposal is to set yourself a five-year programme and aim to raise £2million per annum, but on the undertaking from the Scottish Government that it will match funding to give local economic development groups some meaningful resources.
“Each of these should work closely with Scottish Enterprise and should certainly aspire to get funding from it. That would undoubtedly give the private sector a very meaningful role to play in the development of their region and the national economy.”
One and its sector boards were created in 2015 to strengthen and diversify the north-east economy.
Sir Ian said: “We have about 75 senior business people plus public sector and academic equivalents focused on developing their industries and getting other key businesses and organisations engaged in our work.
“We have a good relationship with local authorities, the two universities, the local college and, obviously, businesses and industry sectors.
“We’re not about talk, we are about action, planning, doing and delivering change, and that’s really what the whole of Scotland needs.”