By Colin Uquhart

SCOTLAND'S creative technology companies are playing on a global stage, thanks to a national tech boom and increasing demand for innovation in feature films and games.

The ongoing Scottish tech boom has seen job openings in Glasgow and Edinburgh increase by more than a quarter in the past two years, demonstrating some of the highest growth in tech in the UK and employing more than 100,000 people (figures from

Thanks to a dynamic and integrated technology environment – including industry funding and sector clusters such as Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Games Network, Creative Scotland, and Scottish Development International – Scotland is moving the needle in global entertainment. In the $2.3 trillion global entertainment and media market, tech services are increasingly in demand, from cutting-edge visual effects in Hollywood to AAA game development. Success stories include Rockstar North (Grand Theft Auto) and VFX experts Axis Studios (Love, Death & Robots).

At DI4D, we have seen the demand for creative tech services grow to record levels. Founded in 2003 following our PhD and subsequent research at the University of Glasgow, DI4D provides the most lifelike facial animation possible for digital characters and "digital doubles" in video games and movies.

With roots still firmly planted in our home city of Glasgow, we expanded to Los Angeles in 2017. In the past decade, we’ve quadrupled in size, and have worked on AAA game titles such as Call of Duty and blockbuster movies like Blade Runner 2049 and Venom: Let There Be Carnage. In the last 12 months we have doubled sales, with the majority earned from recurring clients, including world-leading VFX, game, and movie studios. Our strong presence in the international market means three-quarters of our business now comes from outside the UK. This growth has been fuelled by a boom in content production, plus higher expectations for quality and realism in VFX and video games.

But to continue these expansions, more work is needed to train and retain Scottish talent. We’ve benefited from strong industry and funding support in Scotland, but have also experienced the tech skills shortage that businesses across the sector are currently facing.

There is a robust pipeline of talent from within Scotland, thanks to world-leading universities and skills development opportunities. But Scottish businesses can be at a disadvantage when recruiting: remote working is becoming common practice, which means that many businesses in our sector are increasingly competing globally for talent. With the Scottish Government’s ambitions to increase exports to a quarter of GDP by 2029 – a plan which highlights the tech sector as a key market for trade – we hope that retaining talent will be a focal point for funding and educational support in the coming years.

With investment, opportunities, and demand at an all-time high, Scotland’s innovative creative tech sector could be on track to take centre stage on a global scale – as long as we have the talent in place to drive it.

Colin Urquhart is CEO and co-founder of DI4D, a facial performance capture company based in Glasgow.