Rockets, ships and automobiles may sound like a follow-up to a comedy classic starring the late John Candy, but it is in fact a snapshot of some of the projects the Scottish National Investment Bank (Snib) is supporting in the north and north-east.
Snib chief executive Al Denholm told The Press and Journal the bank’s investments were reaching every part of Scotland.
He was speaking on the eve of Edinburgh-based Snib publishing annual results.
Its portfolio expanded from 14 to 27 investments, supporting an estimated 2,300 jobs, during the year to March 31.
Revenue surged by 463% to £10.7 million, while there was a 55.5% increase in committed investment to £220.7m.
Deposit return scheme blow
But on the negative side of the balance sheet, the bank booked an “unrealised” loss of £17.8m, including £4.5m linked to the collapse of Circularity Scotland – set up to manage Scotland’s ill-fated deposit return scheme.
Snib invested £9m in Circularity Scotland, which is now in administration.
The latest figures also show Snib has committed more than £445m of long-term strategic investment to date. A further £703m has been attracted in from other sources, “ensuring the Scottish economy has benefitted from well over £1.1 billion of support”.
Investments so far include £35m of funding for the expansion of Aberdeen harbour.
Snib has also backed Aberdeen life sciences company Elasmogen to the tune of £3.5m, supporting its mission to “invest in innovation for a healthier population”.
The rockets investment, worth £17.8m as part of a £40m funding round, is in Forres-based Orbex, which is counting down to satellite launches from Sutherland Spaceport.
On the ships theme, as well as Aberdeen harbour, Snib has pumped £50m into Aberdeen firm North Star Renewables to help build new vessels to support the renewable energy sector.
Another Granite City firm, Trojan Energy, secured £9m of Snib cash to help fund the rollout of its innovative electric vehicle charging techhnology.
Snib’s other investments include £6.6m for Aberdeen-based clean energy pioneer Verlume, whose technology uses intelligent energy management to deliver a constant output of power from renewable sources.
And Highland Coast Hotels secured Snib investment worth £6.5m to support more sustainable and community-led hospitality around the North Coast 500 tourist route.
Mr Denholm said the bank was in the thick of “ongoing discussions” to deliver more investments “from Shetland to the Borders”.
Investment bank’s three missions
Snib was launched in November 2020 to provide patient capital to businesses and projects connected to Scotland in order to “build a fairer, more sustainable economy”.
It typically invests in small and medium-sized enterprises and projects seeking £1m-£50m in debt or equity support. Snib also acts as a cornerstone investor, helping businesses to secure private sector funding alongside its taxpayer-backed cash.
Its investments must help achieve one of three missions: Supporting Scotland’s transition to net-zero; improving places and communities; or harnessing innovation.
Mr Denholm said the bank was making good progress towards become one of Scotland’s “most respected” impact investors, helping to create economic growth and jobs.
Snib chairman Willie Watt, a former Aberdeen Grammar School pupil and Aberdeen University geography graduate, added: “Our capacity as an organisation to deliver insight, investment and impact has grown significantly.
“We are moving out of our start-up phase and are becoming an increasingly established organisation, delivering solidly against our business plans.
“Despite incurring our first investment loss after the end of this financial year, we continue to work towards a positive net return across our portfolio as a whole, demonstrating both responsible and productive stewardship of public capital.”