Scottish Enterprise

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Scottish Enterprise (SE) is an enterprise and investment agency sponsored by the Scottish government. It was founded in 1988 by Bill Hughes, at the time a CBI boss and advisor to the Thatcher government, now the director of Grampian Holdings. As of 2007, SE was the parent body of 12 Local Enterprise Companies (LECs).[1]

When Hughes proposed the SE system, he bypassed the then Secretary of State for Scotland, Malcolm Rifkind, going straight to Mrs. Thatcher. This unusual tactic was adopted because after the disastrous fall in the Scottish Tory vote in the '87 elections, the Scottish Office was blamed for resisting the new economic culture through the Scottish Development Agency (SDA). Unable to conceive that her policies alienated the Scottish electorate, Thatcher was already mulling over plans to scapegoat and abolish the SDA when Hughes knocked on her door. Two years later the project was launched at the Dunblane Hydro.

Biotech lobbyists

In October 2002 the then Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of Monsanto, Hugh Grant, joined the newly formed international advisory board of Scottish Enterprise,[2] Scotland's main government-funded agency for economic development. Grant's fellow board members included the chief executive of pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, and the senior vice-president of Genzyme Corporation, one of the top ten biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.[3]

Scottish Enterprise's love affair with biotech began in the 1990s. At the end of that decade it launched a Framework for Action, which committed the Scottish tax payer to injecting nearly $64 million between 2000 and 2004 into the development of "biotech customers".[4]

As Network Director - Biotechnology at Scottish Enterprise, Peter Lennox, whose principal previous experience had been in the Food and Drinks (whisky) sector, was charged in 2001 with the goal of doubling the number of biotech companies in Scotland from 50 to 100 by 2003.[5]

"Already our biotechnology industry is world famous for Dolly the sheep," Lennox enthused. Dolly, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell, had come into the world in 1996 at the Roslin Institute, just outside Edinburgh.

In 2000 it was announced that the company behind Dolly, PPL Therapeutics, was to build a drug manufacturing plant in Scotland. Scotland had been chosen, it was said, because of the financial support on offer from Scottish Enterprise which provided guarantees to underwrite PPL's repayment of £13.8m in loans.[6]

For Lennox, Dolly was but the icon at the centre of an emerging "biotech tartan triangle" that could be a major economic driver for Scotland.[7] "We have many other leading lights," he claimed, "who need enthusiastic and well informed young people to bring their talents to the industry in order to both maintain and increase that momentum through the 21st century."

To help generate those "enthusiastic and well informed young people" for the biotech sector, Scottish Enterprise decided on a highly controversial course of action. In early April 2001 it announced, "Your World magazine, an informative and colourfully illustrated publication covering the key current topics of biotechnology, will be introduced to over 600 education establishments throughout Scotland from today, to augment the curriculum literature on life sciences... Produced in the US by the Biotechnology Institute, the magazine has seen great success in America for both education and industry alike."[8]

To coincide with the announcement, Scottish Enterprise brought together educationalists and industrialists at the Glasgow Science Centre to hear how Scottish Enterprise's Biotechnology Team had helped formulate teachers' notes to align the content of seven issues of the magazine to the Scottish school curriculum.

Simon Best, Managing Director of Geron Bio-Med, which like PPL Therapeutics was a commercial off-shoot of the Roslin Institute which produced Dolly the Sheep, spoke at the presentation, noting: "Scotland is already a globally competitive player in Biotechnology... The education system should be the bedrock of building and maintaining public trust. The publication of 'Your World' is an important step in securing a healthier, wealthier and more sustainable future for Scotland."

But many thought that the distribution to schools of Your World was a violation of public trust. An article in The Sunday Herald bore the headline, "Fury at pro-GM school magazines".[9] The article noted that Your World was produced in the U.S. by an organisation called the Biotechnology Institute whose funders included the biotechnology companies Monsanto and Novartis, as well as the Biotechnology Industry Organisation (BIO) and the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. The President of the Biotechnology Industry Organisation (BIO) sits on its board. The article noted that, in promoting the magazine, Scottish Enterprise had failed to mention "the fact that it has been sponsored by multinational GM companies".

One issue of Your World was on GM crops. It claimed GM was "creating better plants"[10] and criticised organic farming. It also suggested pupils experiment with growing Monsanto GM soybeans. It featured the Monsanto-connected GM evangelist Florence Wambugu. The magazine's scientific advisor was Channapatna S. Prakash, the controversial editor of the AgBioWorld website whose pro-GM campaign was co-founded with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, described by The Centre for Media and Democracy as a "well-funded front for corporations".

According to The Sunday Herald, 'The "infiltration" of industry into the curriculum worried the Educational Institute of Scotland, the trade union representing teachers.[11] The institute's general secretary, Ronnie Smith, wanted Scottish Enterprise and HM Inspectorate of Education "to exercise more critical judgement, and urged teachers to do the same".

Martyn Evans, the director of the Scottish Consumer Council was quoted in the Sunday Herald article as saying, "The biotech companies behind the magazine are using the provision of education as a marketing opportunity to influence pupils."

However, according to the Sunday Herald article, Scottish Enterprise's biotechnology director, Peter Lennox, dismissed criticisms of the involvement of GM companies as "nonsense": "I'm flabbergasted that anyone should raise this," he said. "It didn't even cross our minds. I thought it was just knowledge. Biotechnology is an enigma wrapped in a mystery and there is a lack of knowledge about it." '

Lennox was head-hunted to become the New Zealand Government's biotechnology chief - 'Industry New Zealand Director Biotechnology' - after Prime Minister Helen Clark named biotechnology as one of three sectors that held the key to New Zealand's prosperity.

There was a special link between biotechnology in Scotland and New Zealand. PPL Therapeutics, the company behind Dolly the Sheep, had part of its operation in NZ where it maintained over 3,500 sheep on 440 acres of farmland. In 1996, the New Zealand authorities had granted PPL approval to import semen from Scotland taken from sheep genetically engineered to produce a medicine.

But in January 2002 the icon of Scottish biotechnology was diagnosed as having a form of arthritis that would usually only be expected in older animals. The following year the decision was taken to 6-year-old Dolly after a veterinary examination showed she had a progressive lung disease, again a condition more common in older sheep.[12] Sheep often live to 11 or 12 years of age.

By September of 2003 PPL Therapeutics had decided to sell its assets and shut its doors. This followed its loss of 18.6 million pounds in 2002, up from a loss of 12.7 million in 2001. In April 2003 PPL had announced it would not be building the drug manufacturing plant that Scottish Enterprise had been so keen to underwrite, saying that the venture was too "risky".[13]

New Zealand was left with a large herd of unwanted GM sheep on its hands.

By 2003 Scottish Enterprise's international advisory board member, Hugh Grant, had become Monsanto's President. Grant had joined Monsanto in Scotland in the 1980s. In October 2003 Monsanto announced it was pulling out of the European cereal business with no GM products to show for its investment.[14]

International advisory board


Public Relations and Lobbying

In 2008, Scottish Enterprise is listed as a client of MWW Group.[15]

It was also listed as a client of Media House International at one point.


  1. "Scottish Enterprise and its Local Enterprise Companies", OECD, 2007, accessed October 2008
  2. "International Advisory Board", Scottish Development International website, accessed October 2008
  3. "Scotland PLC: The Scottish Executive's corporate links", Corporate Watch website, accessed October 2008
  4. "Scotland PLC: The Scottish Executive's corporate links", Corporate Watch website, accessed October 2008
  5. "Ardana Bioscience scoop two biotechnology industry awards", Scottish Enterprise website, accessed October 2008
  6. "Scottish colleges biotechnology consortium launched", Scottish Enterprise website, accessed October 2008
  7. There are many references to this concept. See, for example, "Strong Maryland biotech a plus in Scotland deal", UMBI website, accessed October 2008
  8. This announcement has expired from the Scottish Enterprise website. However, pdf copies of Your World magazine can be downloaded from the Biotechnology Institute website
  9. Rob Edwards, "Fury at pro-GM school magazines", Sunday Herald, 15 April 2001, accessed October 2008
  10. "Genetically Modified food crops", in the Your World magazine article guide, Biotechnology Institute website, accessed October 2008
  11. Rob Edwards, "Fury at pro-GM school magazines", Sunday Herald, 15 April 2001, accessed October 2008
  12. "Dolly the sheep clone dies young", BBC News, 14 February 2003, accessed October 2008
  13. "Dolly the sheep firm PPL drops drug factory plans", Reuters, 29 April 2003, accessed October 2008
  14. Paul Brown and Mark Oliver, "Monsanto to quit Europe", The Guardian, 16 October 2003, accessed October 2008
  15. MWW Group Clients Accessed 18th March 2008