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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 3 September, 2002, 12:23 GMT 13:23 UK
Enterprise body defends its record
Scottish Enterprise building
Scottish Enterprise has had a turbulent week
Scottish Enterprise has been defending its performance saying it has made solid progress against tough conditions.

At its Annual Public Meeting in Glasgow, chief executive Robert Crawford said foot-and- mouth, the fall in demand in electronics and the global economic downturn had made it a difficult year.

Despite the Scottish economy being in recession for the first time in 20 years, Mr Crawford urged optimism saying that inward investment was not a dead concept for the future.

However, he said the aim must be to create more home grown companies and focus on specialist areas.

Scottish Enterprise HQ
The agency is under public scrutiny

The goal for the economic development agency is a "smart, successful Scotland", with the priority for next year being 8,000 new company start-ups, 6,000 new inward investment jobs and to increase the number of firms created from academic research from 35 this year to 50.

Mr Crawford also unveiled plans for a 5m food technology company based at the Hannah Research Park in Ayrshire, spun out from university research.

He said the discussions with venture capitalists were well advanced and the new company, called FFAST Solutions Limited, was likely to begin trading early next year.

As well as the successes in spinning out university research, Scottish Enterprise also met or surpassed another 18 of its 21 priority targets for 2001/2002.

It assisted 7,483 news business start-ups against a target of 7,200 - up more than 1,000 on the previous year.

And it helped 857 exporters to penetrate new markets and achieved more than 4,505 modern apprenticeships.

However, it failed to meet its target for the number of jobs created by inward investment projects.

That figure is 4,000 lower than expected, following a worldwide economic slump.

Breach of duty

Last week the agency faced an angry tide of political criticism from the Scottish Conservatives.

The row erupted after BBC Scotland revealed the details of an internal Scottish Enterprise e-mail which proposed a "head-on attack" on Tory criticism of the body - a breach of its duty to be non-political.

Scots Tory leader David McLetchie said the agency had been "out of order" in its actions during the row but he had been given an assurance that the matter had now come to an end.

Mr Crawford accepted that it should not act, or be seen to act, in a party political manner and its executives apologised for any confusion.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Business correspondent Hayley Millar
"Scotland can no longer rely on foreign firms to create jobs here"
See also:

29 Aug 02 | Scotland
28 Aug 02 | Scotland
20 Feb 02 | Scotland
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