ScotlandIS is the trade body representing the fast-growing digital technologies industry, which covers software, telecoms, information technology services and digital media.
We provide our members with connections, up, down and across the industry, with market intelligence and insights, and we campaign on the issues that affect them, such as skills. We also work to promote the industry to the press, policy makers and end markets across Scotland and further afield.
Scotland’s tech sector is growing and everywhere you look there are new opportunities. From global players such as CGI, BT, and Oracle through a range of high-profile Scottish businesses like Petrotechnics, Skyscanner, Craneware, KAL, and Freeagent to newer product-based companies such as Smarter Grid Solutions, Ecometrica, Administrate, and Amiqus.
As a country we’re also continuing to attract inward investment. Companies such as Encompass, Avaloq, JP Morgan, and Amazon Development Centre are setting up in Scotland to access the talented workforce here, further boosting demand for skills.
With start-ups popping up on a daily basis in Codebase’s centres in Edinburgh and Stirling, at The Tontine and Rookie Oven in Glasgow, and Elevator in Aberdeen, and a thriving games cluster in Dundee, the buzz around the industry is palpable. A new generation of tech entrepreneurs is using the growing pool of talented digital makers, with skills in software development, product management through to digital marketing, to build the businesses of the future. They’re often funded by tech savvy business angels, and increasingly coming through tech “accelerators” such as Seedhaus and Civtech.
Digital technologies are effecting all our lives and all parts of the economy, enabling new products and services and improving productivity in industries as diverse as retail and aquaculture, tourism and leisure, financial services and health and social care. As companies like Cityfibre, BT and Virgin continue to invest in the connectivity that underpins the digital economy, delivering Gigabit Cities, 5G and rolling out broadband to all parts of Scotland, and businesses like Microsoft and Google provide easy to access cloud-based services, providing an internationally competitive platform, the opportunities in technology are enormous, and this provides unparallelled potential for Scotland.
Through our regular events, at ScotlandIS we bring people across the industry together around these opportunities, for example in smart transport through MaaS Scotland, in cyber security, in technology for the oil and gas sector. We facilitate peer to peer networking for people from software engineers to sales and marketing professionals, enabling informal partnerships to be developed and best practices and experiences to be shared. We help develop the ecosystem – for example through working on the establishment of The Data Lab, setting up CodeClan and championing the development of CivTech.
We provide our members with market intelligence and insights, through our annual industry and salary surveys, and market specific research such as analysis of public sector information technology (IT) spend.
And we campaign, acting as the collective voice of the industry. The skills shortage the industry faces has been a constant theme for us. We work with all parts of the skills ecosystem, with schools, colleges, universities and policy makers, support careers advice, promote apprenticeships and work to address gender balance issues, highlighting female role models. We run an industry placement programme, ePlacement Scotland, to give students increased employability and helped set up “Digital Xtra”, the new charity funding extra curricular coding and digital making activities for school pupils across Scotland.
Looking forward, a number of technology developments are opening up new horizons that Scotland is well placed to exploit. The coming together of proven mobile applications, low cost sensors, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), combined with smart analytics, the Internet of things and “big data” is driving disruptive technology solutions, particularly in financial services, and life sciences. The challenges posed by cybersecurity also create opportunities to create products and solutions. In food and drink, tourism, life sciences, social care, financial services, advanced manufacturing, transport, energy, environmental sciences, the creative arts – everywhere you look technology is making a difference and that will only increase.
The Scottish Government has set out a vision to build a high-tech, low-carbon economy. Scotland is already home to more than 2,000 digital technologies companies, many of them well established and growing rapidly, selling into markets in Scotland, the rest of the UK, and globally. We can increase that figure further, harnessing the innovation and creativity across the industry. By nurturing the next generation of businesses to introduce their ideas and innovations, and helping existing businesses to scale-up, they will contribute even more to the economy in the years ahead.