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Net zero at heart of £2bn Scottish National Investment Bank

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who today launched the bank. Image: The Scottish National Party

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who today launched the bank. Image: The Scottish National Party

The Scottish National Investment Bank has been launched with net zero as a key area of investment.

The bank – which is the UK’s first mission-led development bank – is to provide £2 billion patient capital for businesses and projects in Scotland in a bid to catalyse further private sector investment. Its missions will focus on supporting net zero, harnessing innovation and extending equality of opportunity through improving places.

Its first investment - £12.5 million into Glasgow-based laser and quantum technology company M Squared – has also been announced today (23 November), with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon describing the bank as “hitting the ground running”.

“The launch of the bank is one of the most significant developments in the lifetime of this parliament, with the potential for it to transform, grow and decarbonise Scotland’s economy.”

It bears resemblance to the UK’s Green Investment Bank, which was established by the government in a bid to support decarbonisation but was later sold to Macquarie in 2017. As a result, the government faced criticism that it was seeking to “make a quick buck” by reducing public debt through the sale over prioritising the UK’s green targets.

Since then, recommendations to re-establish a national bank for green investment have continued to come in. Most recently, UK100 called on the government to set up what it called a Net Zero Development Bank, suggesting that by putting £5 billion towards local energy projects, a £100 billion return for the British economy could be created.

The announcement of Scotland’s National Investment Bank comes in the same week as reports that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce a national infrastructure bank as part of the government’s delayed national infrastructure strategy.

The Scottish National Investment Bank was first announced in 2017, with a consultation on the proposed missions running earlier this year.

Whilst it is a public body, it will operate commercially and be operationally and administratively independent from government.

Willie Watt, chair of the Scottish National Investment Bank, said the launch “enables us to make mission-led, strategic, patient investments in businesses and projects that can deliver benefits for the people of Scotland”.

“It is our firm belief that the bank will make many more investments that deliver positive mission impacts in the years and decades to come.”

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