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Innovation in Scotland – the future is bright!

Read the monthly blog from our Head of Cyber, Ciara, as she discusses the latest headways in innovation in Scotland and the cyber sector.

There seems to be a lot happening in Scotland currently in relation to growing and supporting the tech and innovation ecosystem. Scottish Government has committed to a £7m boost for supporting the tech ecosystem in Scotland as part of its plans to implement the recommendations in the Scottish Tech Ecosystem review. As outlined in the article, it is expected that procurement for a network of growth-focused entrepreneurial hubs known as “tech scalers” will open for bids later this year. It is anticipated that there will be five scalers in different parts of the country by 2022, with the aim of supporting around 300 high-quality start-ups over the next five years.

In addition to the tech scalers, there are also plans for a number of 5G Innovation hubs, with work on hubs in Dundee and Stirling already underway. The Dundee one will be based at Abertay University and will have a cyber element to it (as well as gaming, VR and manufacturing). Not surprising given the exciting plans getting underway in the Dundee cyber quarter. These 5G hubs are part of the Scotland 5G Centre initiative to establish a series of S5GConnect Hubs across the country, promoting innovation and investment in sectors and regions that can be transformed through 5G.

As well as Scotland’s Digital Strategy being launched there was also a Datacentre and Digital Connectivity Vision released which sets out Scotland’s intention to grow the data centre capacity in Scotland, and doing so in a green and sustainable way. This of course is an underpinning factor in the digital strategy and the growth of the tech sector in Scotland, as well as tying into Scotland’s focus on sustainability and climate tech in the run up to COP26, which will run in November 2021 in Glasgow (and partly virtually no doubt).

There are many other exciting projects underway throughout Scotland such as the Moray Aerospace, Advanced Technology and Innovation Campus (MAATIC), HALO Kilmarnock, Chapel Cross CX Project and many more, so it does seem to be an exciting time for the tech industry as a whole, despite the COVID19 and Brexit challenges both affecting the industry. Scotland is also seeing significant growth in the gaming and space sector in Scotland, with the Scottish gaming industry growing 17 per cent between November 2018 and April 2020, and a recent study by Scottish Enterprise indicating that Scotland’s space sector income could reach over £2 billion by 2030.

We would hope that many, ideally all, of these initiatives would have a cyber security element or focus within these centres, and the cyber cluster will support that in any way we can. Additionally, we have a number of innovation-focused projects underway such as the cyber innovation challenge and the development of a Scottish cyber innovation hub. The cyber innovation challenge, which is being led by Scottish Enterprise, is at the early stage of scoping but the expectation is that the challenge will focus on the health and care sector and seek innovative companies which can work to create products and services to address the challenge selected. Details will come out in the next few months so watch this space.

The cyber innovation hub proposition is moving to full business case stage (with the high-level proposition created last year), with an aim to complete the business case later in 2021. The application process for finding the right organisation to lead on the business case development is underway.

The CENSIS Secure by Design IOT programme is now well underway, with it being in its second year of a 2-year programme. This has been a great collaboration of IOT and cyber security with many other sectors being engaged along the way, so well done to CENSIS on such a forward thinking and impactful series of events throughout this programme.

And the Cyber Quarter plans at Abertay are moving forward rapidly with the launch being just over a year away now (Summer 2022). This will have a huge impact on the cyber community in this region with an influx of organisations and jobs to this locale. NHS NSS have already agreed a space for their cyber team there, and I for one am looking forward to getting the grand tour when the time comes.

Despite 2020 and early 2021 being a difficult time, the future is certainly looking bright with a number of game-changing initiatives either in planning or underway which will help to grow and strengthen the tech industry across all sectors in Scotland and give that much needed boosted to support the recovery of the tech ecosystem and the Scottish economy as a whole. Exciting times ahead!

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