Gillespie joins from the University of Strathclyde but was previously with Scotland’s economic development agency for 16 years.
Linda Hanna had been acting as interim chief executive of Scottish Enterprise after Steve Dunlop stepped down as CEO last October after only two-and-a-half years in the role.
Gillespie, who will officially take up the post on September 1, said: “I’m very much looking forward to re-joining the talented team at Scottish Enterprise, and to working closely with our partners in business, academia and government to support recovery, innovation and growth across the country.”
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He joins from the University of Strathclyde where, as chief commercial officer, he was the institution’s executive team lead overseeing growth of its industry facing activities and the development of key projects such as the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland and the Glasgow City Innovation District.
During his 16 years at Scottish Enterprise, Gillespie held leadership positions in the technology and energy sectors, before becoming managing director leading the agency’s support for high growth companies, innovation, entrepreneurship and infrastructure development.
The position of chief executive is a full-time permanent post which has a salary of £180,000 per annum.
Scottish Enterprise chairman Lord Smith of Kelvin said: “Adrian has extensive knowledge in economic development which, coupled with his leadership abilities and recent experience at the University of Strathclyde, will bring a strong mix of skills and fresh perspective at a critical point in Scotland’s economic recovery.”
Economy secretary Kate Forbes said: “Congratulations to Adrian Gillespie on his appointment as chief executive of Scottish Enterprise.
“This is a crucial time for business, trade and investment in Scotland and I look forward to working with Adrian, and leaders from across our business community, to push forward with an ambitious agenda of recovery and economic transformation.
“By working together and galvanising the expertise and ingenuity of businesses, trade unions and workforces, we will be able to seize Scotland’s economic potential and deliver greater, greener and fairer prosperity.”
Creating more than 10,000 jobs and backing £1 billion of exports are among Scottish Enterprise’s key targets as it looks to accelerate the economic recovery this year.
Setting out its priorities for its £400 million budget for 2021/22 in May, the economic development agency warned of the severe challenges posed by the pandemic and Brexit, with lower investment by businesses and reduced global trade.
It also predicted that the potential loss of skills by furloughed workers or those who have lost jobs was likely to affect Scotland’s productivity growth over the short term and hit average living standards and wages.
Targets for the year ahead include supporting the creation of up to 10,500 jobs paying at least the real living wage.
The agency recently launched a £4m “Green Jobs Call” to deliver support to companies transitioning to a net zero future with grants from £50,000 up to a maximum of £500,000 on offer.
It is also looking to enable up to £425m of R&D investment by businesses and support some £1bn of exports by Scottish firms.