Fiona Godsman

The recent Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review by Mark Logan, commissioned by the Scottish Government, is a detailed assessment of the technology sector, highlighting how Scotland can accelerate the maturity of its ecosystem with education a fundamental enabler to achieving economic success.

The report shines a light on the potential we have in Scotland to create a future-proofed economy and it is really positive to see that the importance of experiential entrepreneurship education is recognised. Happily, I believe that we already have an environment in place within the tertiary education sector that can be nurtured to amplify the progress already being made, rather than having to start from scratch.

At SIE, we support students across Scotland to develop their enterprise skills, uncover entrepreneurial talent and start their own ventures. We already play a critical national role in Mark Logan’s suggested ecosystem by empowering innovative students of any discipline to start tech-enabled businesses.

Whilst I wholly welcome the 34 detailed recommendations set out in the report and agree that we must build on our current tech ecosystem, it is also important to recognise that excellent ideas with the potential to become successful tech ventures come from a diverse range of sectors and this potential can be harnessed in a bid to aid Scotland’s economic recovery. Technology, whilst seen by many as a standalone sector, now underpins every industry – whether that’s tourism, healthcare or agriculture – and this will become even more apparent in the years ahead.

Funding, education and infrastructure have been earmarked as the three pillars to influence the performance of the ecosystem as proposed by Logan. With education at the heart, I suggest that more emphasis needs to be put on the role that universities and colleges must play in the early instilling of an enterprising mindset in students of all disciplines, as this is the foundation for an entrepreneurial and aspirational economy.

Across the nation through our universities and colleges, we already have access to budding entrepreneurs which is a result of the institutions taking a proactive approach to integrating innovative and enterprise thinking within their curricula. This, in my opinion, is the stage that we need to capitalise on now, and into which additional investment should be focused.

By supporting education bodies and institutions across Scotland, SIE has enabled hundreds of students to accelerate start-up ventures including former Dundee University medical student, Chris McCann. His tech business, Current Health, which provides a digital platform for medical staff to monitor patient health, was nurtured through the specialist support available collectively through SIE and the wider entrepreneurial ecosystem and has gone on to achieve remarkable success across the globe.

Scotland already has a fantastic range of resources, support and funding opportunities for entrepreneurs and students alike who have innovative ideas that need nurtured. There is a pool of talent awaiting to be unlocked across the country and ensuring that even more students can access the existing range of support will accelerate our economic recovery – not just in the tech sector.

The report, however, is an essential evaluation of the sector and I hope to see many of the recommendations brought forward as we strive for a successful economic recovery in the months ahead. Vital to enabling this, is working together with decision-makers, education bodies and importantly, students.

Fiona Godsman, chief executive at Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE)