It’s mid-afternoon at Edinburgh’s Sheraton Grand Hotel and Polly Purvis is taking a short breather. In the next room, chief technology officers as well as key figures from the private and public sectors are touring exhibitors at the annual ScotSoft conference.
“I think predominately very buoyant,” says the head of trade body ScotlandIS on the current mood within the digital tech industry. “Lots of companies are doing really well. We’ve seen year-on-year growth across the industry over the last five years of 10 per cent per annum so that’s really positive.
“I think there is a lot more ambition and I think that internationally famous companies like Skyscanner and FanDuel are really putting Scotland on the map. There is a real buzz around the tech sector in Scotland at the moment.”
Skyscanner, Scotland’s first $1bn web company, and Edinburgh-founded fantasy sports site FanDuel, which this summer reportedly joined the billion-dollar tech start-up scene with the closure of a $275m funding round, are of course at one end of a spectrum. Other promising players are in the pipeline, though Purvis acknowledges there are two key areas where attentions ought to be focused.
“We need to be thinking global, much more from the point companies start out,” she tells Connect. “I think a lot of the newer companies coming through do have that more international view of their market – they’re not building just for the local market, they are building for an international market, so I think that’s very positive.
“And we are seeing a whole range of companies already in the export sector beginning to open up new markets [and] people who haven’t been exporting beginning to open up export markets. I think people recognise that there are huge opportunities there, but it’s also very challenging to do and lots of companies have their fingers burned trying to move into new geographies and found it more difficult than anticipated.
“It’s not necessarily desperately easy but I think it is where we need to move; to selling our products and services not just in the UK but overseas. The UK has been a very buoyant IT market for a very long time, but actually there are bigger opportunities out there if you can get out into international markets.”