Scottish election 2021: SNP pledges £50m for competition to find project with 'greatest potential' to transform Scotland's economy

The SNP has committed £50 million to a new competition that aims to fund a project with the potential to “transform” Scotland’s economy.

The competition will be named the ‘National Challenge Competition’ and will offer up to £50m to the project with the “greatest potential” to transform Scotland’s economy, trade minister Ivan McKee has claimed.

It would be open to businesses, universities and other areas of innovation and would launch within the first year of an SNP government.

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It is understood the ‘national challenge competition’ around the economy could see multiple projects backed if several are deemed to have significant potential.

The SNP have pledged to launch a competition to find the project with the most potential to transform Scotland's economy.

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The SNP said the competition would be guided by a new Council for Economic Transformation comprised of industry, trade union and academic representatives.

Trade minister and SNP candidate Ivan Mckee said: “The pandemic has changed the way we live and work, and it has accelerated changes in the economy. The next decade will be crucial to Scotland’s economic future as we rebuild from the pandemic, transition our economy to net zero and face the challenges and opportunities of new technology.

“That’s why – within the first six months – a re-elected SNP Government will bring forward a new ten-year strategy for economic transformation, setting out the steps we will take to deliver a green economic recovery and support new, good, green jobs, businesses and industries for the future.

“The National Challenge Competition will support this work and empower us all to play our part in Scotland’s recovery. Just as responding to Covid-19 has been a collective effort, so will be our economic recovery.”

In 2008, then first minister Alex Salmond announced the creation of the ‘Saltire Prize’, which would provide £10m to a company that could demonstrate a commercially viable wave or tidal-based energy technology.

Despite five companies in the running, by 2018 the Scottish Government had admitted none were likely to meet the criteria for the prize and was deemed by some to be impossible to win.

However, in 2019 the Scottish engineering company Orbital Marine Power received £3.4m from the prize fund after the criteria was rewritten and the prize relaunched.

It is understood the criteria for the new ‘national challenge competition’ is yet to be set by the SNP.

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