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Growing seedlings and levelling playing fields – an update from the North East

As we all face a ‘new normal’, working from home and combining our working day with the chaos that surrounds having children at home to educate and feed (so many times a day!), I have learned that escaping to the greenhouse to tend to my growing seedlings is an ideal way to find some peace and quiet and some time to think.  If I’m looking for a bright side in the current situation, and reflecting on the usual challenges we face in the North East, the corona virus has in many ways levelled our playing field, enabling us to attend the same events as everyone else, opening us up to events and networking that would have taken place in the central belt or London and saving us from taking a full day to travel to a two hour meeting, or to be the only virtual attendees.  We can now attend every event, access support networks and attend meetings with the same ease and at the same cost as other attendees.

Of course, a level playing field doesn’t feel like much of an advantage when we’re playing in a heavy storm and tech companies in the region are facing incredibly challenging times with customers disappearing and projects being put on hold.  The ScotlandIS Industry Survey 2020 was launched recently and is a great resource for understanding Scotland’s tech sector, including additional information from follow-up responses collected during April to gauge the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the sector’s outlook for 2020.  Despite COVID-19, many firms have identified opportunities for growth over the next nine months and approximately one third of those surveyed believe business opportunities will rise due to increased or new demands related to COVID-19, particularly in cloud services, digital connectivity, remote working technology and digital health solutions. With 11% of survey respondents based in the NE the results are a good indicator of the sector challenges, but we know that the north east has additional challenges with the troubled Energy sector adding to the concern of tech companies in the Energy supply chain.  It has been good to catch up with many of our tech companies over the last few weeks, to check in on how they are doing and to signpost them to webinars and events that can help with support, as well as funding opportunities.

North east members have been busy over the last few weeks.  Deep Miner launched their BtoB search engine that accesses business focussed, unbiased information and can identify sentiment to help you cut through all the information.  Graeme Gordon (IFB), Mark Griffiths and Graeme Humphrey (Codify) ran a very sociable virtual meetup on behalf of ScotlandIS for local companies to get together for a chat and to keep the excellent support that happens in real life happening online. There was also great input to the ScotlandIS Business Hub from local members including Converged Communications, Sword and The Tech Force, offering resources to businesses across all sectors to support rapid transformation at this challenging time.

It was wonderful to see the north east tech community rally to support NHS Grampian in extending their ‘Welcome Wards’ to include virtual visiting, to enable patients and their families to keep in touch through real time video calls, during the current restricted visiting that’s in place. A call through social media resulted in a huge number of responses, including a generous supply of iPads from the Oil and Gas Technology Centre and the proposal of solutions to other NHS problems, which we were able to connect to their central innovation team.

As you will all know, ScotlandIS have run some fantastic webinars over the last few weeks, with topics ranging from financial support for businesses, how to market your business in the current climate and mental health while working at home.  If there were any that you weren’t able to attend in person they are all available on YouTube so do take some time to check these out, and if there are subjects you think we should be covering please let us know. Face to face event planning is also ongoing and there’s a great opportunity for cyber and data companies to participate in the SPE Aberdeen/InstMC Digitalisation of Process Control conference in November. The call for abstracts is currently open with a deadline of 19 June.

The ScotlandIS team are really grateful for the continued support of members at this time, the Aberdeen community have completed surveys, helped with campaigns and initiatives and attended events and this support enables the team to continue to bring the industry’s views to both Scottish and UK Government. You can read more about the activity that’s been going on and find out how your views are being represented on the ScotlandIS webpage.

If you’d like to find out more about activity in the North East or would like to meet for a virtual coffee to introduce your company and be part of the community, please get in touch with me by email.

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