Delegates in the Chamber 2017-Presiding_Officer Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work

Business in the Parliament Conference

Hosted jointly by the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government, the Business in the Parliament Conference aims to facilitate engagement between businesses and politicians. It forms part of a regular and on-going programme of engagement with business organisations and senior business leaders across Scotland. The aim of this unique partnership event is to engage Scottish business in discussion about how to encourage sustainable growth in Scotland's economy. There have been 11 conferences to date, since 2004, with the last conference on 28 and 29 September 2017. Details of previous conference programmes and delegates can be found in the History section of the website.

2018 Conference

The 12th Business in the Parliament Conference takes place on 25-26 October 2018. The theme is "Young at Heart: Beating the Drum for Scottish Business in the Year of Young People". The event, chaired by the Presiding Officer, Ken Macintosh, features keynote addresses from Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister; Edel Harris, Chief Executive of Cornerstone and EY Scotland Entrepreneur of the Year 2017; and from the young entrepreneurs from Estrela (Orkney) and Lite (Aberdeen), schools finalists from the Festival of Youth Enterprise 2018; Estrela winning the overall Company of the Year and Lite the SIS Social Impact award.

Programme for Plenary (Friday 26 October)     

08:15               Registration

09:00               Welcome from the Presiding Officer

                         Ken Macintosh MSP, in the Debating Chamber

09:05               Views from the Committee

                         Gordon Lindhurst MSP, Convener of the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee

09:10               Address by keynote speaker

                       Edel Harris, Chief Executive, Cornerstone

09:20               Presentations by Festival of Youth Enterprise finalists

                        Lite winners of the SIS Social Impact Award

                        Estrela winner of the Company of the Year Award

09:30               Scottish Government view

 The First Minister, The Rt. Hon. Nicola Sturgeon MSP

09:40               An audience with the First Minister and young entrepreneurs

                       Chaired by the Presiding Officer

10:00               Presiding Officer closes first session

                         NETWORKING BREAK

10:30               Workshops in the Committee Rooms: discussion on key themes

12:00               Q&A session

                         Cross-party panel responding to questions from delegates

12:45               Closing speech

                    Derek Mackay, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work

12:55              Closing remarks

                   The Presiding Officer, Ken Macintosh MSP

13:00               END

13:00-15:00     Space available in the Parliament should people wish to stay on and network further.


There are six workshops for delegates to choose from, details of speakers to be confirmed in due course:      

 1. Enterprise Education – shaping future skills

Aim: To explore how the Scottish Government and partners, working with business, can improve the parity of esteem for ‘practical learning alongside academic study’. Outcomes will be a menu of options for us all to enhance recognition of non-formal learning, and improved understanding by civil society and the business community of the benefits/skills development non-formal learning brings.

Co-chairs: John Mason MSP and Jamie Hepburn MSP

Speakers: Geoff Leask (Chief Executive, Young Enterprise Scotland); Brian McEwan (Bridge 2 Business Programme Manager, Young Enterprise Scotland); and Justyna Weckowska (Student, City of Glasgow College)

2. Innovation and AI & Data

Aim: The Fourth Industrial Revolution is transforming every aspect of daily life and work. This session will discuss and develop ideas for how Scotland can harness the opportunities afforded by the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to generate economic and social value and create national excellence. Key Issues to be tackled   include how Scotland can be a digital innovator and an agile adopter and adapter; safe, innovative and      ethical data products and services; and changes in education, skills and employment. How can Scotland lead in ‘enlightened automation’ - making technologies work for people, prosperity and the public good?

Co-chairs: Dean Lockhart MSP and Ivan McKee MSP

Speakers: Neil MacLean (Partner, EY) and Professor Mike Chantler (Heriot-Watt University)

3. Fair Work for Young People

Aim: This session will provide a platform for stakeholders to take part in stimulating debate and discussion on how we achieve a more productive, cohesive and fairer Scotland which provides young people with sufficient opportunities to contribute to economic growth. The feedback from the session will be used to influence and shape both the Gender Pay Gap and Fair Work Action Plans which will be published later on in the year.

Co-chairs: Jackie Baillie MSP and Maree Todd MSP

Speakers: Dave Moxham (Deputy General Secretary, STUC); TBC (STUC Youth Committee); and TBC (STUC Youth Committee)

4. Young people on Boards – creating a talent pipeline of young trustees

Aim: How can we encourage more young people to join boards, have their voices heard and develop their leadership capabilities as entrepreneurs? This workshop will explore the benefits of creating a diverse talent pipeline for SMEs/large corporates and third and public sector organisations, focusing principally on age and gender. Outputs will be recommendations for policy makers and specific quick-win actions for organisations.

Co-chairs: Jamie Halcro Johnson MSP and Fiona Hyslop MSP

Speakers: Dr Miles Weaver (Associate Professor in Supply Chain Management & Sustainability, Edinburgh Napier University Business School); and Vicky Brock (Founder & CEO of Get Market Fit)

5. Investing in Scotland’s people: engaging with the Scottish National Investment Bank

Aim: To inform the proposals in the draft Bill to establish a Scottish National Investment Bank with the right values, vision and purpose. The aim of SNIB is to enable greater access to debt and equity investment for businesses, those starting out as well as those seeking to scale up. This workshop will seek your views on how to achieve this.

Chair: Derek Mackay MSP

Speakers: David Wilson (Scottish National Investment Bank)

6. Scotland’s online economy: threats and opportunities.

Aim: Technology has reshaped the distribution model and opened up the market for new, nimble and creative Scottish businesses. But are we in danger of ignoring the implications of disruptive technologies or failing to provide the support necessary to help businesses, workers and consumers take full advantage? How can we mitigate against the downside of the rise of e-commerce and its impact on more traditional retail? And are we taking cyber security seriously? This workshop seeks to address such issues and direct its findings at policy makers.

Chair: Gordon Lindhurst MSP

Speakers: Peter Mowforth (Indez) and David Ferbrache (KPMG)

Data Protection

This privacy statement explains how the Parliament collects and uses personal information for the purposes of organising the Business in the Parliament Conference (BIPC).

Privacy Statement (128KB pdf)


In 2016, the Scottish Parliament passed the Lobbying (Scotland) Act, designed to bring about greater openness and transparency about the face-to-face lobbying of MSPs, Ministers and certain Government officials. While attendance at the Business in the Parliament Conference does not in itself constitute lobbying, some of delegates’ interactions with MSPs or Ministers at the conference may. Full information on the lobbying register can be found at its website. A quick guide can be accessed here and any queries can be directed at the lobby register team at or 0131 348 5408.


For more information about this year’s Business in the Parliament Conference, contact Rodger Evans at or (0131) 348 5230



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