Towards the Tipping Point

Read the University of Edinburgh and City Region Deal’s response to the report here

In August 2020, the Scottish Government published its review of Scotland’s tech ecosystem, prepared by Mark Logan (ex-Skyscanner). Few Scottish Government publications have created as much buzz. No wonder; it presents a tantalising glimpse into a bright future for the Scottish economy. It was a privilege to lead the University of Edinburgh and City Region Deal’s response to the report and we’re keen to continue discussion with government as plans emerge from the review.

The review was commissioned in the middle of the first lockdown and aimed to assess how the technology sector could support Scotland’s recovery from the pandemic, but its recommendations reach further – they are ‘strategic’ in nature rather than ‘tactical’. It’s important to implement the recommendations in a holistic way, to push our tech ecosystem over the ‘tipping point’ and maximise the benefit.

As Mark Logan points out, universities are an exceptional asset to the Scottish Tech Ecosystem since we have a superb higher education cluster. Scottish Universities are a source of world-class research, support for accelerator activity, and generate intellectual property and talent across most of the key domains.

The challenges of ‘doing innovation’ should not be underestimated. The tech sector changes fast, and the tech ecosystem of tomorrow will be different from the one of today – we must future-proof it. As educational institutions, universities can have a vital role in this, ensuring our tech community is diverse and inclusive, and combining entrepreneurship with cutting-edge science. In our experience, even the initial process of securing funding for large innovation projects can take up to three years. That’s why it’s vitally important for us to work together and strengthen our profile as a global destination for talent and investment.

For its part, the University of Edinburgh has been the leading contributor to the evolution of the thriving start-up scene of the capital city, in collaboration with venture funders, accelerators and incubators, such as CodeBase.

In our response to the Scottish Government, we propose universities to join forces and develop a nation-wide plan to address these challenges, in collaboration between the Scottish Government, the Scottish Funding Council, and the private sector. Scottish Universities are already at the intersections of entrepreneurial, innovative and technology-driven activity. We look forward to working with partners to push our tech ecosystem over that tipping point.