Initiatives designed to increase Scotland's economic competitiveness, including third sector employment projects, will receive a European funding boost. Enterprise Minister Jim Mather welcomed the decision to award £158m to 153 projects in Lowlands and Uplands Scotland through the 2007-13 European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and European Social Fund (ESF).
The Minister revealed details of the first round of funding on a visit to Fairbridge's Glasgow centre. Fairbridge will receive £1.4m of European funding for a three-year project to help 1,830 young people (aged 13-25) in Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh progress into jobs, education or training and volunteering opportunities.
Mather said: "European Structural Funds provide a major opportunity to complement the Scottish Government's drive to create a wealthier and fairer Scotland, as well as our economic and skills strategies.
"I am particularly pleased to see the third sector benefit from the latest round of funding. The third sector has significant transformational potential and more than 60 per cent of the ESF's individual employability projects will be run by third sector organisations including Momentum, the Princes Trust, Fairbridge and the Wise Group.
"This government is determined to improve Scotland's competitiveness and productivity. European funding will have a vital role to play in helping us achieve our goals."
It was announced last October that Scotland would receive £570m of European Structural Funds in 2007-13. The money can be used to match-fund projects that will help Scotland improve its growth rate and get more people into work. Like other parts of the UK, Scotland has received just under half of the funding received in 2000-06. This reduction is a result of EU enlargement. The 2007-13 programmes in Lowlands and Uplands Scotland are administered by ESEP Ltd.
For the 2007-13 programme, a minimum project threshold was set to encourage larger scale, larger impact projects. For Lowlands and Uplands Scotland, eligible projects must have a minimum average cost of £200,000 or over. No threshold will apply in the Highlands and Islands, owing to the smaller nature of projects in that area.
A ranked list of projects is submitted to the Programme Monitoring Committee (PMC), which comprises senior representatives of partners from the programme area, chaired by the head of the Scottish Government's European Structural Funds Division. PMC recommendations are passed to Ministers for final decisions on projects.
Today's announcement covers the first round of the 2007-13 programmes. Of the £158m, just under £73m of ERDF funding will support 45 individual projects designed to improve business innovation, the use of research and development, access to finance and resource efficiency. A further £43m from ESF will support 108 individual projects aimed at helping those with barriers to employment or improving workforce skills and access to learning. In addition, up to £42m will be awarded to Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs) for regeneration projects.
The Scottish Co-investment Fund (SCF) is an equity investment initiative administered by Scottish Enterprise. Launched in 2003, it provides essential capital for innovative, high-growth Scottish companies. Using a co-investment approach, money is invested alongside private sector investors on a matched funding basis. The original SCF had a value of £43m. £32m of the £72m comes from a successful application to the European Structural Funds, Lowlands and Uplands Scotland 2007-13 programme. The remaining £40m comes from Scottish Enterprise.
The next opportunity for projects to bid for funding in Lowlands and Upper Scotland will be later this year. A separate announcement on successful projects from the first round in the Highlands and Islands will be made shortly.