No-one could have predicted the challenges we have faced over the last year.

Throughout our initial year of operation, we tried to balance those who need immediate help and support as well as those businesses and communities creating opportunities for the future. We have also started to make some bold decisions on key strategic partnerships as well as taking forward important work to develop a long term ambition for the future of our region.

I think we can all be proud of what we have achieved since we were established on 1 April 2020. All of us know there is also much more both we and you can and will do, and this Operating Plan sets out our priorities for the year ahead – making clear where we intend to make a difference working in partnership with businesses, communities and those who are active across the South of Scotland. Our team has grown to over 80 incredible people and our collective vision remains true ‘to establish the South as the centre of opportunity, innovation and growth.’

Now, more than ever, we need to continue to deliver upon our core values of being bold, striving, inclusive and responsible and we will do so working with everyone in the South with all our hearts.

We continue to strive to develop the leadership role we need to have for all of us as a voice for the South.

We have, and will continue to engage with, businesses and communities who so far have helped us follow our journey, and created the achievements that have formed the basis for the announcements we have made and without whom would have not allowed us to have the momentum, drive and ambition we have all brought to our region.

While we have made some big investments, we would never want to lose sight of the smaller scale and other support which is equally as important. In many cases that small amount of help or support leads to an impact far greater than would be imagined, so is something we are proud of and we will continue to make sure we do.

We, on our own, or in many cases with our partners continue to build important relationships with stakeholders - locally, nationally and indeed internationally - to maximise the potential of our area both today and in the future, and make sure we do what is best for the South.

Showcasing the South of Scotland and the people, businesses, and communities that drive it is key; which is why getting those messages and stories - not just of those we help - but others as well is critical, and we firmly believe that this can support the region as it comes out of this pandemic and look towards a positive future.

This includes enabling entrepreneurship, supporting our young people, creating jobs, attracting businesses to set up here, encouraging innovation, working with communities, rolling out Fair Work and supporting and promoting the wonderful environment and landscape we live in.

Underpinning all we do will be a focus on enabling a Just Transition to Net Zero, achieved by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases and enhancing our natural assets to store existing carbon, as Scotland moves to significantly reduce its emissions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2045. In the year when Scotland hosts the international COP26 conference in Glasgow in November, we are determined to use this as a catalyst to create a legacy of positive action in the South of Scotland.

Our aim has always been to become the development agency that the South of Scotland has always wanted and not just a funding agency and I think our first year has shown that in practice.

To do that we must continue to be seen as an Agency which is flexible, adaptable and skilled in also providing support and expertise of all kinds to anyone who may need it to achieve their objectives. The people of the South of Scotland wanted us to be different and not here to do what might be ‘expected’ or has been done traditionally, but more to always consider individual situations and solutions as well as seeing the bigger picture.

Our message to everyone remains – come and talk to us.

We are very proud of our achievements to date but are firmly focused on the future and our ongoing plans to listen, be innovative, different and deliver for the South of Scotland.

We look forward to the year ahead and truly believe that ‘Success Starts Here’ in the South of Scotland.

Professor Russel Griggs OBE

Professor Russel Griggs OBE

Chair, South of Scotland Enterprise

Jane Morrison Ross

Jane Morrison-Ross

Chief Executive, South of Scotland Enterprise

Who we are

South of Scotland Enterprise, SOSE for short, is a new, dedicated economic development agency, established by the Scottish Government, for the South of Scotland. We have been established in direct response to the unique economic opportunities and challenges facing the South of Scotland, and we are here to lead the delivery of a fresh and locally focused approach required to succeed in responding.

Our aims

Our twin aims, as set out in legislation, are to further the sustainable economic and social development of the South of Scotland, and to improve the amenity and environment of the South of Scotland.

Our vision

Our vision is to drive inclusive growth, increase competitiveness and tackle inequality within the region. We want to establish the South of Scotland as a centre of opportunity, innovation and growth.

Our mission

Our mission is to work together with people across the South of Scotland to grow its economy in a just and sustainable manner. We will provide investment, expertise and mentoring to people and businesses and by doing so, we will inspire the region to think bigger and unlock the great potential of the South.

Our board

Our Board has a broad range of knowledge and experience and is chaired by Professor Russel Griggs OBE, with the organisation being led by our Chief Executive, Jane Morrison Ross. You can meet our Board at Appendix A.

for the South, by the South and in the South

Our Values.....

...are at the heart of all we do. They have been shaped by a process of collaboration and are grounded in an understanding of the South of Scotland and its needs. We will be…


  • Collaborative, long term.
  • Building trust, bottom up not top down.
  • Supporting diverse thinking from diverse communities and business.


• We do what’s right for communities and the planet.
• We are honest, transparent and straight-talking.
• We champion the South; its people, communities and businesses.


• Open-minded, creative, lateral.
• Optimistic, pioneering and ambitious.
• Aiming high, providing hope and encouragement.


• We take pride in all that we do.
• We never give up, we fight for what’s right.
• We challenge ourselves to always be better.

We said, we did...

Our previous Operating Plan set out that our immediate priorities across our first year were:

  1. Recovery from COVID-19;
  2. Developing Our Ambition for the Region; and
  3. Developing our Organisation

In responding to these, our headline achievements include having:

A rocket as we launched and successfully established SOSE

launched and successfully established SOSE as a new agency in the midst of a global pandemic

Picture showing staff count growing to 85

grown our staff count to 85 - increasing our capacity and capabilities to help more businesses and communities across the South of Scotland

Picture showing award of a total of c.£14.6m to 455 businesses

helped influence the award of a total of c.£14.6m to 455 businesses in the South through Scottish Government COVID-19 funds

Picture showing plant growing with support

provided tailored one to one advice and support to over 700 businesses, communities and projects, aiding them to innovate, strengthen and grow.

Picture showing piggy bank of funds.

established 5 of our own funds:

  • awarding c.£11.7m to 172 organisations
  • helping sustain 88 businesses preparing them for recovery;
  • safeguarding or creating 3,700 jobs; and
  • investing £8.9m in capital assets and projects.

provided the leadership and vital support needed, working closely with the region’s two councils, to establish the South of Scotland Regional Economic Partnership (REP)

lead role

played a lead role in directly supporting the development of the South of Scotland’s first ever Regional Economic Strategy

Have your say framework

published ‘Have Your Say’ - a framework making clear how we will engage the people who live, work and operate across the South of Scotland

Provide a voice

provided a voice for and championed the South’s interests, responding to 10 national consultations on a range of topics important to the South

Energy transition

led in better understanding a number of significant regional opportunities, including the work of the South of Scotland Energy Transition Group and our Natural Capital measurement approach.

led by example in being a fair employer

led by example in being a ‘fair’ employer, engaging with, supporting and empowering our staff to drive positive change across the South of Scotland, in the face of adversity

If you want to read or print out our full Operating Plan, you can download it now.

If you wish to access the Operating Plan in a different format, please contact us.

You can print this page as well.

Our Southern Star

Over the past year SOSE has, working closely with Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders Councils, provided the leadership and vital support needed to establish the South of Scotland Regional Economic Partnership (REP). The REP brings together a wide range of organisations, sectors and groups who are based in, or work across the South of Scotland, around a shared ambition to secure and enable inclusive and sustainable economic growth across the region.

The REP’s immediate focus is on producing the region’s first ever Regional Economic Strategy (RES), which will set out a clear and long-term vision for the future economic direction of the South of Scotland – our ‘Southern Star’ for all to aim towards.

Development of the strategy has built on the significant work undertaken in the lead up to the formation of SOSE. Extensive additional, inclusive and wide-reaching engagement also took place between February and April, ensuring that those who live, work and operate across the South of Scotland have been able to have their say on what the longer-term priorities for the region should be.

Early engagement findings have reaffirmed that the South has competitive advantages owing to its strategic location in the centre of the UK; the quality of environment and natural assets; sectoral strengths in agriculture, forestry, manufacturing and human health; and that the region possesses a strong sense of identity and community pride.

Looking to the future, there are obvious economic opportunities associated with:

• our natural assets in supporting the just transition to net zero, the green economy and for outdoor recreation and tourism;
• green energy and the roll out of infrastructure, products and services needed to decarbonise our homes, working practices and travel – with the region well placed to lead the way;
• the regions cultural wealth and creative vibrancy;
• creating a stronger care economy; and
• digitalisation.

The biggest headline challenges remain that the region needs to retain and attract more working-age people and the transport challenges created by our rurality.

Consultation on the draft Regional Economic Strategy will take place over Summer 2021, with a final version published later in the year. Once in place, the strategy will help shape the actions of individual partners, ensuring greater co-ordination of resources and capabilities

Arriving at Our Priorities for 2021/22

Our activities are underpinned by the South of Scotland Enterprise Act 2019, that recognises to realise the full potential of the South of Scotland, our actions need to be directed across a wide range of activities. Applying a collaborative and place-based approach to develop our region, we are:

• Supporting business and community development and streamlining their route to funding, markets and success;
• Showcasing the South of Scotland and the people and businesses that drive it;
• Building and enhancing relationships with businesses and communities and providing access to specialist services and advice; and
• Taking forward our leadership role amplifying the voice of the South.

Our interim annual strategic guidance letter from the Scottish Government emphasises that SOSE needs to be responsive in the face of changing circumstances as we recover from COVID-19, ensuring a strong focus on business and community resilience. Our recovery is to be led by green growth and the promotion of fairness and wellbeing.

The Scottish Government expects us to invest and develop longer term opportunities and to:

• Work collaboratively with the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board to ensure the needs of the South of Scotland are fully realised;
• Develop strategic supply chains to leverage public sector procurement, as part of a broader commitment to Community Wealth Building;
• Play a leading role in taking forward the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal;
• Facilitate the South of Scotland response to the opportunities provided by the United Nations COP26 climate summit taking place in Glasgow in November 2021.

In setting our priorities, we are also focused on the themes emerging from Regional Economic Strategy and direction from the SOSE Board to ensure that we remain flexible and collaborative in our approach to deliver the best outcomes for the South of Scotland.


Supporting Economic Recovery 

In 2020/21 SOSE supported businesses and organisations across the South of Scotland to navigate the impacts of the economic crisis created by COVID-19 and to anticipate and respond to business issues related to the UK’s exit from the
European Union. We provided a range of support and funding to sustain businesses and other organisations in crisis and to protect jobs, as well as to clients looking to adapt and diversify their operations to start the journey to recovery.

The economic impact of COVID-19 on the South of Scotland will continue to be incredibly challenging into 2021 and beyond, with further impacts likely to arise from the UK’s exit from the EU. There will be an ongoing need to protect vulnerable organisations in order to maintain our economy and retain people in work and to help businesses and organisations to prepare for and invest in recovery. 

What we will focus on:

• Understanding and mitigating the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, and EU exit, on our businesses, communities and economy
• Sustaining as many viable jobs as possible
• Providing tailored support to help those disproportionally affected by job losses, including women, young people and those in disadvantaged communities, to access alternative employment
• Supporting communities to recover from COVID-19, encouraging and supporting them to develop sustainable projects that create jobs and aid community wellbeing
• Communicating opportunities and supporting local businesses to plan for and invest in recovery and growth
• Supporting entrepreneurs to start new businesses and existing businesses to position themselves to respond to new and emerging opportunities
• Attracting inward investment and encouraging investment from within the South of Scotland to create new jobs with a focus on creating a just and green recovery
• Supporting new and innovative approaches and initiatives which will accelerate the realisation of inclusive growth within the region


What we will do:

• Continue to allocate significant resources to supporting our COVID-19 crisis management and recovery, in parallel to initiating new support and funding that will assist the region to develop and grow for the future
• Continue to directly and meaningfully engage with as many businesses, communities and other initiatives seeking support as possible, assisting or signposting where we can
• Invest in critical physical, social and human infrastructure and skills for recovery and future development of our economy, communities and environment
• Identify employment opportunities in the short to medium term, with a focus on Green Jobs and supporting the Just Transition to Net Zero
• Develop and deliver an action plan to attract and land Inward Investment, creating jobs and opportunities
• Share learning and best practice on adaptation, diversification and innovation
• Be bold and open to new models of working and funding to deliver solutions and infrastructure

What we will do in partnership:

• Champion the needs of the South of Scotland by contributing intelligence and influencing Government thinking and actions
• Continue to adopt a Team South of Scotland approach to pool intelligence and coordinate restart and recovery efforts
• Continue intelligence sharing regarding potential redundancies in the South of Scotland and support appropriate response action including business crisis support and PACE activity
• Work with the Councils, Business Gateway, Skills Development Scotland, VisitScotland, Scottish Development International, Industry Bodies and other local and national partners to make the most effective use of the funding and resources available to support economic recovery and create maximum benefit for the South of Scotland
• Work with partner Enterprise Agencies to share best practice and develop joint activity and ways of working
• Align our plans and activities with those of the Scottish Government

Developing Our Offer

Whilst our primary focus in our first year was to support our region to respond to and recover from COVID-19, we also started to think about our offer for the future. We established relationships with key Team South of Scotland partners and national agencies and providers to progress joint initiatives on the ground and ensure that our service delivery complements existing support. We also supported businesses and communities to plan for the future, creating a strong pipeline of future activity in the region.

This year we will continue to develop our offer through initiating new services, support and funding focused on addressing the needs and issues
of our region and delivering inclusive economic recovery and growth for the South. We will also focus on building our expertise and increasing
awareness across the region of what we offer through a place-based approach to service delivery, which is responsive to our rural geography and
dispersed population and business base, and continuing to collaborate on key regional initiatives.

What we will focus on: What we will do: How we will enable this:
• Developing and expanding our service offer for businesses, social enterprises, communities and initiatives / projects to deliver inclusive economic recovery and growth for our region • Continue to offer individual support, tailored to clients’ needs, issues and opportunities
• Develop our range of support, services and funding to complement and avoid duplicating other locally or nationally available support or funding
• Communicate our offer to partners, businesses and communities to aid a better understanding of our role and the value we can bring
• Work collaboratively with Scottish Development International (SDI) and other partners to proactively support all businesses within the South who have international ambitions, in keeping with Scotland’s export growth plan
• Pilot new services, support and funding
• Work with national partners and industry bodies to ensure that national support and resources are accessible and are reflective of rural needs
• Developing working approaches that underpin a client focused service
• Developing a place-based approach to service delivery • Explore how to best offer a place-based approach
to service delivery in the post-COVID-19 ‘new normal’
and implement this model
• Target support to places where it is needed most
• Be more visible to those organisations who are
looking for our support
• Support Team South of Scotland partners to deliver
their place planning work
• Work with partners to understand the places most in need of support and to maximise the impact of our services and funding in local places
• Build on and strengthen partnership working with Team South of Scotland partners
• Going to our clients - meeting businesses, social enterprises, communities and partners when safe to do so
• Building our client-focused team and expertise so we can support the businesses, social enterprises, communities and initiatives / projects across the region throughout their journey from starting up to
established organisations
• Integrate Scottish Borders’ Business Gateway services into our service delivery to support entrepreneurial activity
• Continue to recruit and develop our team of client focused professionals so we can offer specialist advice to clients at whatever stage of development they need it
• Promote and support the take up of new practices that support a Just Transition to Net Zero; embed Fair Work; and embrace innovation and digitalisation
• Constantly review and develop our skills, knowledge and services so that they meet the needs of our clients and region
• Build the capability and tools of our client-focused team to be able to support businesses and communities with key national priorities like the Just Transition to Net Zero and Fair Work
• Collaborating with partners, organisations and industry bodies to deliver key national, regional and locally focused programmes and projects • Be an active stakeholder in the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal projects and programmes to maximise the benefits for the South of Scotland
• Support the Advanced Innovative Manufacturing Service to help businesses to make the most of these facilities to develop innovative manufacturing techniques and new products
• Secure national opportunities to promote digital utilisation and improve infrastructure
• Develop our understanding, engagement and action in key thematic areas for the South of Scotland such as tourism, creative industries, energy and construction supply chains, transport, housing and learning and skills
•  Support Borderlands partners on key projects and programmes
• Identify opportunities to connect our business clients to the Advanced Innovative Manufacturing Service to maximise potential for each business
• Develop our relationships with key networks and partnerships to understand where SOSE can best add value and unlock opportunities
• Being active with National partners to promote the South of Scotland and secure opportunities

Whilst our immediate focus will remain aiding economic recovery, we are increasingly looking to the future and
actively developing our long term strategic response to strengthening our economy and communities. In doing so
we will continue to engage with people, communities, businesses and partners across and active within the South
of Scotland, to establish a clear and shared set of priorities. We will step up to lead change and be proactive in
influencing others to accelerate the realisation of a stronger, greener and fairer South of Scotland.

What we will focus on What we will do How we will enable this
• Continuing to develop our strategic thinking, vision and priorities
• Providing leadership to develop a shared agreement about the opportunities, challenges and priorities for growing a stronger, greener and fairer South of Scotland
• Developing an appropriate, useful and accessible evidence base for the South of Scotland to inform decision making
• Becoming a net zero organisation that supports a just transition
• Taking forward Fair Work
• Using our influence to:
- Shape national and local policies for the benefit of the region
- Ensure the South of Scotland gets a fair share of investment and resources from all sources
- Raise the profile of the region and its ambitions
- Increase awareness of SOSE and our mission to drive change in the South of Scotland
• Develop our strategic Action Plan ensuring alignment with the South of Scotland Regional Economic Strategy (RES)
• Enhance and diversify our methods of communication with businesses, communities and individuals – extending our reach across the South of Scotland
• Explore the best structures for engagement, including the possibility of setting up a Business Panel and open data portal
• Seek strategic opportunities to shape the policies, plans and programmes of others, particularly the Scottish Government
• Respond to key consultations and policy developments, advocating for the South
• Use COP26 as a catalyst to raise awareness and accelerate the region’s journey, and our own, to a Just Transition to Net Zero
• Engage with businesses and communities to hear their views on what matters most
• Publish our Action Plan, considering consultation outcomes and national direction, to set our priorities for the next 3 years
• Agree our performance framework to measure and assess our progress
• Actively address key issues and opportunities around:
- Community Wealth Building to promote fairness and wellbeing
- Green job creation
- Understanding the value of the region’s Natural Capital and establishing a baseline
- Better understanding rural innovation
• Provide project management capacity and communications expertise to support the development and launch of the RES
• Undertake Climate and Carbon Literacy training for all Board and staff members
Working with partners to:
• Develop skills and learning opportunities for all, meeting the skills needs of employers
• Collaboratively develop a regional response to the Just Transition to Net Zero, to enable us to meet the challenge of the climate emergency
• Maximise the opportunities of our Natural Capital assets
• Understand the impact of national and regional partnerships, strategies and plans on the South of Scotland and continue to foster a coordinated Team South of Scotland approach/response
•  Support the development and launch of the RES
• Actively contribute to the Convention of the South of Scotland (COSS) and the Regional Economic Partnership (REP), working with partner organisations to reach agreement on key issues and priorities
• Continue to work with UK and Scottish Governments and partner agencies on key investments, such as Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, Edinburgh and South East
Scotland City Region Deal, EU structural fund replacements, and on a bid for the establishment of a South of Scotland Green Port
• Support the work of the Education and Skills Strategic Coordination Group and the implementation of the South of Scotland Regional Skills Investment Plan (RSIP), including any refresh
• Support the implementation, monitoring and reporting of the recommendations in the South of Scotland Energy Transition Group’s ‘Powering Change’ report
• Collaboratively develop and deliver a regional public awareness campaign for the Just Transition to Net Zero
• Enhance skills and career pathways to create opportunities to retain and attract young people
• Improve access to education, skills and training
• Grow and develop the region’s workforce
• Develop new and strengthened relationships with Scottish and UK Government and partner agencies

Investment Priorities – Already Committed 2021/22

We continue to focus on recovering from COVID-19 in 2021/22, and while many of the programmes we have committed to date have this as their focus, others are very much focused on longer-term developments. Our staff represent an investment in the South of Scotland economy throughthe help they bring to businesses and our communities.

What we have invested in Investment and value (£)
Committed Programmes (£6.6m)
Operations Team Operational resources costs related to service delivery (£4.1m)*
Organisation Running Costs (excluding Operations Team) Resource costs for delivery including estates and staff (£4.9m)
Collaborative Partnerships Collaborations with other strategic public body partners to deliver essential
transactional services relating to finance, HR and IT (£0.8m)

*Expected staff budget by end of March 2022.

Investment Priorities – Future Programmes 2021/22

While we continue to focus on recovering from COVID-19 in 2021/22, we will also take opportunities to focus our resources on creating and investing in opportunities which act to sustain and strengthen our economy, businesses and communities for the longer-term. Our funding is arranged through a range of different funds and these will be invested flexibly to support strong and innovative ideas.

Future investments Investment and Value
Revenue Programmes 4.3m
Capital Programmes 8.2m
Economic Loan Recovery Funds 5.0m


Our approach to funding. We will:

• invest in areas which will have the biggest impact
• be bold and innovative in our thinking
• develop robust business cases with a focus on Fair Work and the Just Transition to Net Zero
• be open to a greater share of risk
• work with key partners to support the implementation of, and add value to, regional investment priorities such as Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal and Edinburgh & South East Scotland City Region Deal