Comment: Green Investment Bank | Skyscanner

Martin Flanagan. Picture: Fiona Hanson/PA

Martin Flanagan. Picture: Fiona Hanson/PA

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THE Edinburgh-based Green Investment Bank (GIB) was one of the coalition government’s better ideas, and one tinged with some genuine environmental hope rather than pervasive austerity. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and GIB puts down a significant marker with its £50 million of funds for community-scale renewables projects across the UK.

Strathclyde Pension Fund is weighing in with £10m, with a fair amount for hydro projects north of the Border, and a private company renewable project specialist is attempting to raise a further £40m.

That takes the potential financial firepower for this green community-scale flourishing to £100m. Better, it looks an array of smaller-scale, do-able renewables schemes that are relatively easily realisable, but with substantial funding, and no hint of grandiosity about them.

As such it is to be applauded, translating green aspirations into something solid, and puts some runs on the board for GIB, the pump-primer in chief.

Apart from environmental considerations, the projects should also create jobs for Scotland’s rural communities, often overlooked when the jobless plight of the inner cities commands centre stage. A genuine good news story.

Sky’s the limit for Scottish web group

THE world wide web is alive and well and living in Edinburgh. Skyscanner,the fast-growing travel search site, became Scotland’s first $1 billion “web economy business” in 2014. The pace of growth has been pretty incredible since the group was founded in 2003.

Co-founder and chief executive Gareth Williams yesterday unveiled a 42 per cent increase in revenues to £93 million last year.

Record numbers visited Skyscanner’s website, with a 77 per cent leap in visitors on mobile devices alone. Other standout figures included a 162 per cent surge in mobile visitors from Chinese travellers, not unexpected after the company’s milestone acquisition of Youbibi, the Chinese metasearch company, in 2014.

Perhaps most promisingly for Skyscanner’s growth potential is that more than four out of five visitors to the site now come from outside its home UK market.

Travel is obviously one of the most international of businesses, and the wider the digital search net goes the more revenues will rise.

A step change was when a US venture capital firm, Sequoia, took a stake in the Scottish business in late 2013, which valued it at some $800m.

The latest growth through the totemic $1bn valuation milestone is a significant marker and bodes well for a homegrown web success story and others waiting in the wings.

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