In the news: Scotland’s digital economy

The introduction of 5G in Scotland could add £17bn to the country’s GDP, while a report by Tech Nation shines a light on Edinburgh as a hub for innovation and fundraising
by Bethan Rees


First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, speaking in Glasgow on 26 August, revealed a new plan to support 5G, according to STV.

Sturgeon said: "There are huge potential gains for the public sector if we embrace technologies such as 5G. We believe this will be a catalyst for further public sector transformation, enabling high quality, user-focused and efficient services that are driven by data."

Also at the event was Andrew McRae, policy chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses Scotland. He said that investment in 5G is a good move for Scottish businesses, and that "three-quarters of Scottish businesses say that digital technologies are important to their plans for future growth. But to deliver on this ambition, firms need access to the right skills and high-quality digital infrastructure.”

Deloitte report, commissioned by the Scottish Futures Trust, an infrastructure centre of expertise owned by the government, suggests that 5G could add approximately £17bn to Scotland’s GDP by 2035 and create 160,000 jobs.

STV article

The capital’s tech economy

Edinburgh appears to already be in the digital fast lane. Its tech sector contributed almost £4bn in revenue to the economy in 2018 and employs nearly 60,000 people, according to a report by Tech Nation, writes Tom Jarvis for The National.

Jarvis reveals that Edinburgh is responsible for creating three of the UK’s leading tech unicorns – defined as startups valued over US$1bn – and Scottish tech firms have raised US$53m in funding already in 2019 through venture capitalists.

According to Jarvis, George Windsor, head of insights at Tech Nation, says: “Edinburgh has established itself as a thriving tech hub not just in Scotland but across the whole of the UK. The Tech Nation report reveals it has played a key role in the success of the UK’s booming tech sector, contributing billions to the economy and punching well above its weight to beat UK averages for job creation, salaries and digital tech turnover.”

The National article

Tech investment dropping

However, according to Ian McConnell for The Herald, Tech Nation also shows that Scottish funding figures are significantly lower than in 2018.

McConnell notes that 2018 was a record-breaking year for Scottish tech businesses; fundraising figures reached US$223m. When asked why funding had fallen, a spokesperson for Tech Nation responded that record levels of investment in 2018 were in informatics and artificial intelligence. “This year, investments are not at the same level. However, given the R&D-heavy nature of many emerging industries in Scotland, it’s likely that investment levels will pick up again when marketable technologies are tested and applied,” they said.

The Herald article

What else can Scotland do to stay in the digital fast lane? Leave your comments below.

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Published: 30 Aug 2019
  • News
  • The Review
  • Scotland
  • Nicola Sturgeon
  • 5G
  • GDP
  • economy
  • digital

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