Scottish Tech and the need to think globally

Calum Purdie

Calum Purdie

Technology and Life Sciences Ecosystem Manager

As the summer comes to an end, there has been a flurry of announcements, events and initiatives that have been taking place across the Scottish Tech community.  

The Scottish Government recently announced the expansion of the Ecosystem Fund to support entrepreneurship. Meanwhile a delegation of international investors and founders toured Scotland as part of the Unlocking Opportunities: VC Insights for Scottish Tech Founders series put on by Codebase Techscaler. All of this has already been building on the important work of the Pathways Report that was released earlier this year.  

Having attended the Unlocking Opportunities event in Dundee, I was struck by the collective messaging from the panel: the need to think big and to think outside of just Scotland.  

Too often, we get caught up with what’s happening right on our doorstep and fail to look outside of our own local bubbles. Two common questions for founders at the startup stage are; who’s investing in my region, and what potential users or clients are there in my local network? In the age of remote working and dispersed team these questions are not as necessary as before. We also have the ability to hop on a plane or train and be in London or Europe in a matter of hours, potentially opening up new pools of investors as well as new clients to pitch to.  

In a particularly striking moment during the discussion, Casey Lau a co-host of Web Summit, asked the audience for a show of hands for who had been to the Portuguese Tech Festival before. Nobody in the audience (including myself!) was able to say that they had been. Given this is one of the biggest tech gatherings in the world, with over 70,000 people globally making the journey to Lisbon, this was more than a little bit surprising. I think it is perhaps indicative of the Scottish entrepreneurial mindset; to focus local initially and to grow from there. Whilst there’s nothing inherently wrong with this approach it can mean missing opportunities by not broadening our horizons.  

The panel was also asked about the impact of Brexit on international investment and business growth, something we hear being discussed regularly in the media. “We don’t care” was the unanimous response, showing how easy it is for the impact of regulatory changes to be overemphasised. If international investors or clients like you and they like your product they will often find a way to work with you, regardless of what’s going on in the wider macro environment.  

Recognising this need for a more international mindset, we have agreed a partnership with Foras to send a cohort of 20 high growth Scottish companies to Web Summit in November. Building on the success of the previous trips to Helsinki and New York amongst others, this trip will have a focus on female-led companies. The fact that part of our sponsorship money goes towards covering childcare and family costs will help to remove one of the main barriers to female entrepreneurship that was identified in the Pathways Report. 

Getting this platform to showcase the superb companies that are being developed in Scotland will be an invaluable experience for the founders. As we move into the busy Autumn period, the need to think big and think international should be at the forefront of all our minds.  

If you would like to know more or have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with myself or any member of the Tech and Life Sciences Team.

Want to know more?

Just fill in our short form and one of our experts will get back to you shortly.