A Glasgow City Council committee was recently given an update on the potential of the Glasgow City Region Investment Zone to support the just transition and climate-resilient economic development. Glasgow was recently recognised – by fDi Intelligence – for having the best investment strategy of any large European city.

In June 2023, the Scottish and UK Governments announced that the Glasgow City Region would be one of two areas to host the first Investment Zones in Scotland. The Glasgow City Region Investment Zone will draw on existing partnerships and a strong sense of where successful clusters of priority sectors can be amplified and will benefit from £160million of government support over the next decade through a mix of tax and spend incentives.

These clusters – as identified by the Glasgow City Region Intelligence Hub – are: Life Sciences, Energy & Net Zero, Digital Creative Industries, Advanced Manufacturing & Precision Engineering, and Digital and Enabling Technology & Services.

As part of its work on the Investment Zone, Glasgow City Council has been considering how the Zone can not only support the just transition and climate-resilient economic development, but also take advantage of opportunities arising through it. A key aim for the city-region is that it will have the most advanced UK city-region economy for net zero and climate resilience.

The Investment Zone proposal must be based on one priority cluster, so an initial expression of interest process began in September 2023 to narrow this down three in the first stage, resulting in over 90 submissions from across the five identified clusters. After a review by colleagues in the city region, the next phase of the process will focus on three clusters: Advanced Manufacturing, Digital & Enabling Technology, and Health & Life Sciences.

These clusters are key to delivering climate resilience and emissions reduction through their decarbonisation, and it is estimated that there are around 500 businesses in the Glasgow city-region in these clusters. The selection process for the final cluster will be informed by policy aims for a just transition and the creation of a climate-resilient economy.

Glasgow City Council has taken into account the recommendations of the cross-party Just Transition Working Group in its approach to the Investment Zone, as well as engaging with city’s universities on how best to deliver inclusive economic growth. The working group’s recommendations led to the development of the Just Transition Skills Action Plan, which aligns with both the opportunities arising from the Zone and industry demands for a skilled workforce to generate further growth.

Work to develop a detailed business plan for the Glasgow City Region Investment Zone is being progressed during the first half of 2024, and once bids have been reviewed and assessed, the final phase of the Investment Zone process will involve the collation of the city-region’s formal proposal – including the package of projects – for consideration and approval by the UK and Scottish Governments.

Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of the Glasgow City Region Cabinet, said: “The Investment Zone offers great opportunities to not only create new high-quality jobs in the sectors that will help drive our future economic growth, but also for a just transition to a more inclusive and sustainable economy in Glasgow and the city-region. We will work with the city’s universities and businesses and partners across the city-region to do all that we can to develop an economy that benefits everyone and is resilient in the face of climate change.”