10 Years ago we were bemoaning the lack of entrepreneurial thinking at Scottish Enterprise, and their apparent disinterest for indigenous businesses. Has it improved? Would love to hear your thoughts.

I SUPPOSE I should have known better, really. It serves me right for thinking for one minute that they might be learning how to do their job properly. I’m talking about Scottish Enterprise, of course.

Under the tutelage of Wendy Alexander they appeared – only just, mind you – to be getting a handle on things entrepreneurial. I could begin to see her distinctive mark on strategies and initiatives and it looked promising. You will know by now that for me to find something reasonably nice to say about Scottish Enterprise is as unlikely as Anne Robinson sympathising with dim-witted contestants on The Weakest Link. So you will no doubt be surprised that against my principles and my usually better judgement I even publicised my vaguely positive views at a recent party (I should get a life, I know).

So I don’t know why I’m so taken aback at their latest stunt. Probably because I’m annoyed I let my guard down and was taken for a fool. I really don’t like that at all.

Anyway, true to form the enterprise network has made a blunder. They probably don’t see it as such, but to me that is exactly what it is: a hugely insulting, narrow-minded blunder of enormous proportions.

Wendy and her muckers at Scottish Enterprise, in their infinite wisdom, have decided that homegrown telecoms companies aren’t good enough for Scotland and are actively seeking international telcos to deliver cheaper Internet access for business.

A consultant’s report – you know about consultants, don’t you, take your watch to tell you the time and then charge you vast sums of money for the privilege – has deemed that Scottish companies pay two to three times more to send data at high speed to overseas destinations than companies in the north of England.

So the government, along with Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise, is courting six international broadband telcos to cut the cost (one of them, Global Crossing, shares an interest with Scottish Enterprise, funnily enough: Ian Robinson, Chair of SE is also an executive director of Global Crossing. Hmmm!). They claim they can save businesses £100m in five years. I’m sure they have our best interests at heart. Who wouldn’t want to save money? But this narrow-minded approach to an obvious problem has completely ignored the indigenous businesses currently fighting to grow their companies in Scotland.

One such company is thus plc. Bill Allan has had a tough ride with thus. The name change wasn’t his finest hour, and the share price has wobbled more than a Jamie Oliver vodka jelly. He’s had his fair share of criticism, not least of all from this very newspaper. But Allan believed. He stuck with it, motivated his staff, pulled the company up by its bootstraps and is only finally beginning to reap the rewards of the company’s efforts.

And that’s why it’s such a slap in the face for him that Scottish Enterprise is encouraging American competitors into the market place he is making his own.

I just don’t see the need to resort to overseas organisations to solve this problem. It would have been much easier all round if the various government bodies sat around a table with thus, with Cable & Wireless, Energis and BT and worked out a way to deliver what businesses need and want – low-cost, high speed access.

It’s always been my opinion that even the most aggressive competitors can work together to create a bigger pie, rather than carving up the existing pie in small, low-margin slices.

I’m sure our homegrown telcos would agree. Despite their differences I doubt they would turn their noses up at the chance to win new business, even if they did have to share it around.

I would suggest that the government, its hangers-on and putters-off give them a chance, but I doubt their intellectual capacity allows them to think laterally, innovatively or entrepreneurially enough to see the benefit of this option.

So I guess it’s up to Bill Allan, Graham Wallace of C&W, Mick Grabiner at Energis, and BT’s Sir Christopher Bland to get their heads together to create an opportunity the powers that be just can’t resist.  Go get ‘em, boys.