ScotlandIS will enhance its capabilities to include cybersecurity and data through the creation of two new clusters – working closely with Scottish Enterprise as part of the move.
Clusters are designed to promote economic growth by maximising the innovation and business potential of a region. Currently, ScotlandIS already manages the Mobility as a Service (MaaS) cluster for smart transport alongside Technology Scotland.
Cybersecurity and data were identified as two areas in which the organisation could expand into in its 2016 manifesto and will run parallel to the Scottish Government’s own cyber action plans published in 2018.
Through the formalisation of the cyber cluster, as well as an increased focus on the data supply sector, ScotlandIS hopes to showcase Scotland’s growing reputation as a centre for technology excellence and innovation.
John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and skills, commented: “Scotland has a rapidly evolving group of innovative cyber security and data supply companies, world-class academic expertise and an agile ecosystem that can help us capitalise on our complementary strengths across the digital space.
“I welcome ScotlandIS’ evolving role, developing into a cluster management organisation which will, in turn, contribute to Scotland’s global position in data and cyber security goods and services.”
The new clusters will allow ScotlandIS members and businesses across the country to collaborate and develop new, innovative products and services which could help to open up new markets and opportunities for Scottish businesses across the globe.
To help deliver this growth, ScotlandIS announced it will appoint three new members of staff to coordinate and lead the organisations’ efforts. A new head of cybersecurity will build on the work already underway to develop a strong, specialist cyber community in Scotland, while the newly-created head of data role will work to support businesses across Scotland that specialise in data; this will include close collaboration with The Data Lab.
A new position to lead operations in the North East will also be created by ScotlandIS to help build on the trade body’s presence in Aberdeen and the greater North East area. This will include a partnership arrangement with ONE Digital and Entrepreneurship. ScotlandIS said the person taking on this role will “help deliver our shared aspirations to develop the digital economy locally.”
Commenting on the announcement, ScotlandIS Chief Executive Polly Purvis said: “This move is part of our evolution, developing ScotlandIS as a membership and cluster management organisations. It enables up to deepen the value our membership provides, creating stronger expertise to support our members and represent the booming Scottish technology sector.”
Purvis added: “We have already done this with MaaS Scotland, bringing together small and large members to work collaboratively in a cluster, on smart transport. Over the last eighteen months, we have been hosting the Cyber Cluster Co-ordinator, working with a range of specialist cyber companies to build a vibrant community, so we’re pleased to be building on this strong foundation.”
Scottish Enterprise is prioritising data-driven innovation and cybersecurity as areas of high opportunity for Scotland’s digital technology sector. Both organisations said they have a shared ambition to develop internationally competitive clusters in these areas, and as such the expansion of ScotlandIS’ cluster management activities will ensure that the opportunity for growth is maximised.
David Smith, sector director – digital technology at Scottish Enterprise, said: “We are delighted to support this initiative with ScotlandIS as we know from experience that industry-led cluster management will enable Scotland to capitalise on its strengths in data and cybersecurity.
“The data-driven innovation opportunity as a whole is worth an estimated £20 billion to the Scottish economy and we are working with a range of partners to help them exploit this opportunity in order to drive business productivity and growth.”