Read the SNP response to CaSE's letter, from the Scottish Government, setting out the party's commitments that are relevant to the science and engineering sector ahead of the 2015 Election.

In the run-up to the 2015 UK General Election, CaSE has written to the leader of every political partywith at least one MP in Westminster, sending them our election briefings and asking them to set out their manifesto commitments that are relevant to the science and engineering sector.

Below is the response from the Office of the Scottish Chief Scientific Advisor

Dear CaSE,

The Scottish Government recognises that Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are key to achieving the overall goal of creating a more successful Scotland and are committed to positioning Scotland as a nation of innovation. As the SNP is the current administration in Scotland, please allow me to answer your queries with examples of policy in action.

The Scottish Government’s enterprise agencies, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, deliver a range of funding to assist Scottish based businesses including: Innovation Grants under the SMART: SCOTLAND scheme, which provides financial assistance to SMEs to help support commercially viable projects which represent a significant technological advance for the UK sector or industry concerned; Research and Development Grants supporting businesses developing new products, processes and services to benefit the Scottish economy; Horizon 2020 funding to support and promote Europe-wide research and innovation whilst bridging the gap between research and the market. The Scottish government recently announced 14 million capital investment in Scotland’s Innovation Centres. The investment is improving the links between education and industry further, and is building on £110 million already committed to the sector. Innovation Centres are collaborations between universities, businesses and others to enhance innovation in and across Scotland’s key economic sectors. Another important initiative is Interface, a central hub connecting businesses from a wide variety of national and international industries to Scotland’s 19 higher education and research institutes.

You have raised the issue of ensuring that we have a diverse pool of talented people driving our future scientific success. Although Immigration is a reserved issue, the Scottish Government recognises that geographical boundaries should not hinder scientific advancement. Scotland’s Universities have local and global networks and collaborations. Skills Development Scotland (SDS) supports the people and businesses of Scotland to develop and apply their skills and in support of youth employment, SDS is one of the delivery partners for the Scottish Government’s guaranteed offer of a place in education or training for all 16 to 19-year-olds through Opportunities for All. The Scottish Government supports the European Commission in its desire for a reinforced European research area partnership for excellence and growth. One of the mechanisms for supporting this initiative was the EU Framework Programme for research and innovation. Figures show that up to 1 November 2013, almost €636 million funding had been secured by Scottish organisations.

In order to ensure that STEM is made as accessible as possible to the general public and school pupils, the Scottish Government funds a number of organisations, initiatives and projects that support young people’s science learning, promote science careers, showcase Scotland’s world-leading research base, and make science accessible to a wide public audience. These include funding allocated to: the four science centres in Scotland (including community and transport subsidies to target those in areas of deprivation) and 15 regional science festivals in 2014-15 to support their education programmes; a number national STEM initiatives for schools; and the Talking Science grant scheme for 2014-15 that supported organisations in return for targeting science engagement activities at hard-to-reach public audiences, including families, young people, and adults, in rural/remote areas or areas of deprivation. All this work complements and aligns with the aims and outcomes of Curriculum for Excellence. Schools are encouraged to work closely with a range of partners to deliver learning, and pupils have opportunities for valuable learning experiences outside of the classroom. In a complementary manner, those receiving government funding are required by condition of grant to ensure that such initiatives and activities align with the Curriculum for Excellence. Furthermore, the Scottish Government believes access to University education should be based on the ability to learn not the ability to pay, which is why Scottish domiciled students are exempt from tuition fees.

Lastly, the Scottish Government recognises the importance of using scientific expertise to inform policy making and accordingly has an independent Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland. It is the role of the Chief Scientific Adviser to ensure scientific advice is considered when making policy. As part of this role, the Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland co-chairs the Scottish Science Advisory Council as the highest level mechanism for ensuring we have access to independent advice and recommendations on science strategy, policy and priorities.

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