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Changes. Lots of changes.

A lot has changed since my last update at the beginning of March when most of us where probably aware of the coronavirus but didn’t expect more than 10,000 people in the UK to have died from it six weeks later. As we are all adapting to social distancing and lock-down, I have been trying to keep you updated on Covid-19 related news that are of relevance to Scotland’s digital tech sector with a series of articles on our website. They include information on the latest public health guidance and support mechanisms for businesses and how to access them. You can find the latest update here.

I’ve also conducted two surveys to understand how the pandemic is affecting the sector in the short and medium term. Many thanks to everyone who participated! The results will feed into our Scottish Technology Industry Survey 2020 report which will be published soon. We are also using your responses to provide feedback to Scottish and UK Governments and relevant agencies to make sure that their support schemes respond to our sector’s needs. We are in regular contact with the digital economy team and Digital Directorate at Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the UK Tech Cluster Group and other stakeholders, so please let us know if you have any specific concerns you would like us to communicate.

I would also like to take this opportunity to say that this will be my last Research and Policy Update as I will be leaving ScotlandIS after 24 April for a new job. I loved the last four years at ScotlandIS, working with my amazing colleagues and our exciting member companies on growing and championing Scotland’s digital technologies sector. However, I am excited to join Scottish Government’s Department for International Trade and Investment where I will be part of a team working on the new trade deals with the EU, US and other countries. I’ll be dealing with technology related trade regulations so will surely stay in touch with the sector.

I am clearly biased but I think that the research and policy work I’ve been doing, together with Jane, the rest of the ScotlandIS team and Polly before she retired, has provided some valuable services to members and improved the awareness and understanding of our industry among policy makers and public sector stakeholders. Some of the highlights include:

  • The annual Scottish Technology Industry Survey which reaches a large audience every year and is the primary source of data and insights on our sector for businesses, governments and investors.
  • The research on public sector ICT expenditure in Scotland to provide members with market intelligence on this important vertical market and the wider engagement with Scottish Procurement.
  • A series of thought leadership reports published together with BT, SCDI and RSE on digital public services and more recently on AI and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It was great to see that the key recommendation in the final report, a call for an AI strategy for Scotland, being accepted by the Scottish Government. ScotlandIS is now closely involved in developing this strategy.
  • The development of capability directories for data and cyber security companies in Scotland to showcase these clusters and allow potential customers to find Scotland-based suppliers more easily.
  • Supporting a variety of initiatives aimed at tackling the digital skills gap in Scotland, through research on labour market intelligence, cyber security skills development, coaching for early career software developers and many more.
  • Contributing to the collective effort to improve the gender diversity in the sector by being part of the gender working group led by SDS, supporting research projects and the development of resources for employers.
  • Regular updates for members on policy developments and changes that could affect them and the wider industry, covering topics such as Brexit, immigration, changes to business support schemes and funding opportunities, connectivity and many more.

To continue this work, we are currently recruiting for a new Research and Policy Manager, the job advert is available here:

I would like to thank my current and past colleagues at ScotlandIS and everyone I have worked with in our member and partner organisations for their support, cooperation and advice over the years. If you would like to stay in touch, please connect on LinkedIn. I am sure our paths will cross again.

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