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Blueprint for a better Scotland

A comprehensive new economic blueprint for ­Scotland, timed to coincide with the supposed openness to new thinking surrounding the constitutional debate, will next week set out a vision of a high-growth Scotland competing in the top rank of the world's most prosperous small economies.

The purpose of the business-derived proposals is the creation of "stronger and more sustainable economic future growth" based on a depth of genuine collaboration between business and government not seen in Scotland for several generations.

Commissioned by N56, a think tank and pressure group founded by commercial property magnate Dan Macdonald, the new Scotland Means Business report has been compiled by a network of independent economists operating in Scotland, London, New Zealand, Singapore and Denmark. The leading author is Graeme Blackett of Biggar Economics, an adviser to the board of think tank Reform Scotland and a former analyst for accountants Deloittes.

Macdonald - the chief executive of ­Macdonald Estates who founded the business-led Scottish Property Federation and advises the Yes Scotland campaign - was previously on the board of Reform Scotland, but resigned over differences on the constitutional question.

His new initiative, N56, gets its name from the latitude of the centre of Scotland, and aims to produce "detailed and fresh analysis of the current Scottish economy". The goal is to help push Scotland up the league table of prosperous and competitive small-country economies by helping to promote more actionable and focused collaboration between the private and public sectors than currently exists.

While many of the proposed solutions could conceivably be implemented under devolution or independence, the thrust of the report appears to support a go-it-alone Scotland emulating the enviable growth, investment and exporting record of other small, nimble and highly competitive economies such as Denmark, Singapore and New Zealand.

The Scotland Means Business report suggests a package of measures, including a new national infrastructure development plan, new branding for Scottish exports, and a more joined-up approach to promoting the renewables industry. The report also seeks to build on Scotland's established expertise in financial services through improved regulation, training and more use of research and development and tax credit schemes.

Other proposals include measures to boost Scotland's technology companies of scale through new models of funding of long-term "patient capital", as enjoyed in other countries. It also seeks to boost entrepreneurship by ensuring public policy supports business-led advice and support initiatives.

Blackett said: "With the combination of human resources, natural resources and competitive advantages in many global growth sectors, it is difficult to find a country that has more potential than Scotland. However, this potential will only be realised with policies that reflect Scottish opportunities and preferences.

"It is clear that Scotland can learn lessons from other countries on how to improve its overall economic performance and hence we have drawn heavily on their experiences to ensure that we are delivering the best solutions to tackle Scotland's problems."

Kaspar Lingaard, a director for economic consultants DAMVAD of Denmark, who contributed to the report, said: "In Denmark we have had a long tradition of the government, public, private sectors and civic society looking beyond the short term and delivering long-term economic strategies that go beyond the normal government cycle of a handful of years.

"Small countries are much more likely to have national level conversations on how to develop national economic strategies responding to global economic circumstances. Given its size, Scotland is ideally placed to develop such a coherent economic strategy."

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