Mark Logan, former chief operating officer at Skyscanner and Professor of Computing Science at the University of Glasgow, will advise ministers on implementing the recommendations from his independent review of the Scottish tech ecosystem.
The new programme will be delivered with £7 million of Scottish Government funding in its first year and will include a £1 million fund to make ‘strategic investments’ in organisations and activities.
This £1 million ‘Ecosystem Fund’ could see investment granted to tech conferences, meet-ups or training programmes which support the Scottish startup ecosystem. The fund is expected to open for applications this summer.
Commenting on the announcement, Professor Logan said: “It’s very exciting to witness the shared sense of mission and ambition across government, industry and the education sector in bringing the tech ecosystem review’s recommendations to life.”
Plans are also in motion to open a network of entrepreneurial hubs, known as “tech scalers,” the Scottish Government confirmed.
It is anticipated that there will be five tech scaler hubs located across Scotland by 2022, with the aim of supporting arounds 300 “high-quality startups” by 2025.
Procurement for the tech scaler network is expected to open for bids later in 2021.
Progress of the programme will be supported by an advisory board featuring some of Scotland’s most successful entrepreneurs and digital leaders, including:
- Lesley Eccles, founder and CEO of HelloRelish and co-founder of FanDuel
- Roan Lavery, co-founder of online accounting firm, FreeAgent
- Sarah Ronald, founder of Nile HQ service design agency
- Stephen Ingledew, Executive Chair of FinTech Scotland
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said: “Mark is one of the most respected figures in Scotland’s tech scene and his experience, passion and global profile will be invaluable in our joint mission to elevate the tech ecosystem to world-class level.
“The expertise and industry perspective of the advisory board will also be instrumental in ensuring we create the conditions and infrastructure needed to incubate a stream of start-ups that reach sustained profitability and can do so at scale.”
Forbes added: “From attracting young people into computing science courses to supporting a community of high-growth businesses, this programme of work will be critical in determining the future contribution of Scotland’s tech sector to our economic recovery.”
Karen Meechan, Interim CEO of ScotlandIS, has welcomed the appointment of Professor Mark Logan to establish Scotland as a world-class technology hub for tech scalers.
She said: “Scotland’s tech ecosystem will be given a great boost by today’s news that Mark Logan will lead the tech scalers programme.
“I have no doubt that the programme will help create the conditions for incubation and growth for Scotland’s tech companies and build on the good foundations and support that already exist.”
Published in August last year, Logan’s Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review outlined recommendations and measures to help take Scotland’s tech sector to the next level, addressing key issues such as access to funding, talent retention and the ability of organisations to scale.
In particular, the report suggested that the tech ecosystem needed additional support to guide it it “past the tipping point” to become a truly world-class industry.
Online travel businesses Skyscanner was Scotland’s first tech “unicorn” – the industry term for a tech company valued at more than $1 billion.
However, the ability of Scotland’s tech sector to produce tech unicorns has been a recurring talking point in recent years and was an issue addressed in the Logan Review.
- Colin Hewitt: Scotland’s tech sector should embrace the ‘Roaring Twenties’
- Cultivating a ‘balanced ecosystem’ key to Scottish tech sector growth
- New tech hub network to support the creation of 300 Scottish startups
According to the annual Tech Nation Report published this month, Scotland boasts three unicorn startups while London alone boasts 55.
Other regional ecosystems in England appear to have faired better in producing tech unicorns in recent years. Both the East and North West of England are home to five tech unicorns respectively while the South East boasts seven.
A point of concern in the Tech Nation Report was the growing disparity of funding across Britain’s regional tech ecosystems.
With London and the South East attracting the majority of investment, the report recommended that steps are taken to ensure access to funding is improved region by region.