Speaking at the Barclays Glasgow Campus on 13 July 2022 First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlines the Scottish Government’s commitment to supporting entrepreneurship and innovation through the launch of the Tech Scalers network.
Barclays will be the host of the Glasgow Tech Scaler hub and that is good news, a further demonstration of how important this campus is going to be not just to Glasgow but to Scotland as a whole.
Over the last few years Scotland’s tech sector has really developed a very strong sense of community, and you can see, hear and feel this. Businesses are constantly sharing and learning from each other’s experiences.
Within the context of the Scottish Government’s overall approach to the economy the establishment of the Tech Scalers are central to the ambition of creating a more entrepreneurial nation, making sure that the commitment to and success in entrepreneurship in a future Scotland is very much chiming with that reputation for enterprise innovation and entrepreneurship that we have down through past generations.
A few months ago, we published the new Scottish government national strategy for economic transformation looking at how particularly we emerge from the Covid pandemic. We want to build a country that is greener, fairer and wealthier for this and generations to come, and to help us achieve those aims that we’ve set very clearly.
There is a need to establish a sense of common purpose among businesses trade unions, government and the many other partners that all need to contribute to building a successful economy and that sense of common purpose is already very striking in the tech and entrepreneurship sectors.
This has been developed in recent years by the likes of CodeBase, FutureX, the Bayes Centre EIE team, as well as by networks like Startup Grind, The Female Founders Squad, the Scottish Games Network and many others besides.
So, it’s something that as government we want to support and encourage across other parts of the economy. In recent years, for example, we funded SCDI to run productivity clubs to bring companies together to learn from each other about how to operate more effectively and how to benefit from new technology. So, it’s a simple but really powerful way of tackling what is one of the biggest issues facing our economy and how do we sustainably increase productivity.
The benefits of that approach where businesses and organizations cooperate and collaborate for a common purpose is already very clear in this sector. In the tech sector, the efforts you’ve made in recent years are already making this sector a very significant Scottish success story. Scottish startups and scale-ups employ more than 135,000 people which is more than anywhere else in the UK outside of London and the south east.
Our universities are recognized rightly as world leaders in areas like data analytics and informatics and we have got enormous strengths as a country in really key areas for the future like AI robotics and FinTech. So we’ve got lots to be proud of we’ve got lots to be enthusiastic and optimistic about.
The sector can still do much better and to illustrate that with just one example in recent years – Scotland has produced three unicorn companies of course valued at more than one billion dollars and two of these have been tech companies. It is something be celebrated but over that same period that Scotland has produced three unicorns, Ireland has produced seven, Estonia ten, Israel sixteen and Sweden thirty five.
Obviously, the creation of unicorn companies isn’t by any stretch of the imagination the only measure of a country’s success but it is a strong indicator and one that we should take seriously. We can and should be doing even more to build on the current strengths that this sector has. Scotland’s ecosystem before the pandemic was closer to this tipping point than at any time in its modern history.
It highlighted that relatively limited interventions by government could help reach that tipping point and it set out what those interventions should be in the three key areas of education, infrastructure and financing. The Scottish government has started implementing these recommendations.
For example, we’ve established a new organization called Scottish Teachers Advancing Computing Science and are designing a new plan for skills development for computer science and teaching. It will help to shape and transform how computer science is taught in our schools. We also establish the tech ecosystem fund which provides support for organizations that help entrepreneurs connect with their peers and with potential investors.
We invited tenders last year to establish the Tech Scalers. The bidding process generated a lot of interest which is really encouraging and has already led to new collaborations between Scottish and international organizations.
The contract has been awarded to CodeBase, who already run a very successful tech incubator in Edinburgh and under the contract they will establish seven Scalers in Aberdeen, Dumfries, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Stirling.
These hubs will be delivered in partnership with universities, local authorities and businesses. The Scalers will provide the basic infrastructure but also a complete support service for startups, will offer five separate courses for companies at different stages of development from new startups onwards. The course for advanced companies will include free access to a program called Reforge, which is Silicon Valley’s most prestigious education program for tech startups.
CodeBase have also promised to develop a national calendar of events for the tech community and companies led by women and minorities, currently significantly underrepresented amongst tech startups will be prioritized for entry to the incubators.
These companies will also be given extra support that recognizes the greater challenges they currently face in raising investment and developing peer networks. Supporting entrepreneurship is one of the most important interventions any government can make in an economy, so that’s why the new role Mark Logan is taking up as chief entrepreneurship officer is so vitally important.
The Scottish Government is determined to do everything we can to create a more entrepreneurial nation indeed that’s why we’re investing in these tech scalers at a time when we’re facing a tough public spending environment, because we know that by providing the right environment for business government action can help to support a much stronger and more sustainable economy.
0:00 – Intro
2:00 – Rise of Tech Sector
2:46 – Scottish Government Approach on Tech
7:10 – Impact of Covid-19
16:33 – Supporting Entrepreneurship
17:53 – Outro