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Scotland’s global recognition for innovation is well-deserved. Modern-day equivalents of inventors John Logie Baird and Alexander Graham Bell continue to push the boundaries across a number of fields, including software.


You could almost take for granted that a vibrant, growing and dynamic economy would have a firm footing in the technology industries, and software is a key part of that. Scotland’s IT industry is a mature one, with the essential enabling factors - infrastructure, people, education and a supportive business environment - that help to fuel its further development firmly in place.

Sophisticated security systems, cloud computing and big data analytics are just some of the ways Scotland is leading the way in software development.

There's tremendous resource there that can help you with sales, with people, and with overseas expansion in putting your brand out there in the marketplace.

Jeff Wright, CEO and founder of Pyreos

Home grown success stories aren’t hard to spot. Edinburgh-based Skyscanner, the global travel search site, benefits from access to Scotland’s bank of talented IT graduates. That’s also the case for successful indigenous companies like medical image specialists Blackford Analysis and Brightsolid, the cloud and application hosting provider.

But in Scotland, the locals don’t have a monopoly on the talent. Large multinationals such as Oracle, HP, Amazon and CGI have all established a presence here.

So what is it that makes them come to Scotland, and stay here? The availability of talented people is just one of a number of factors.

A diverse business environment

It may sound counter-intuitive but that’s got to be a plus for any software developer. Why? Because the software industry serves every other industry it needs people who understand how these industries work, and what they need.

Scotland’s diverse sectors include oil and gas, renewables, healthcare, financial services, public services, creative services, the food and drink industries and lots more. Having large groups of companies working in these areas creates a critical mass and leads to more opportunity. Simon Kauth, managing director of Avaloq Innovation, the banking software innovator, reckons that it makes sense to be geographically close to one of your biggest markets. He says, ‘The company needs plenty of high-achieving graduates to fuel its growth. Setting up in a country with the highest concentration of top universities in Europe was a natural choice."

Innovation and collaboration support

Scotland’s strong and diverse business base has been a contributing factor in the growth of many innovation labs. They promote technology transfer and often make it easier for software firms to access academic support for their ideas. In Scotland, there are innovation labs focusing on areas such as digital health, big data, sensors and imaging, smart cities, renewables, and oil and gas.

There are also a number of organisations that can help facilitate a smooth move to Scotland and can connect software companies to relevant potential supplier, partners and collaborators. These include:

  • Scotland IS - the trade body for software, telecoms and IT in Scotland helps its members to forge links with customers, suppliers and partner companies
  • The Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance - a research pool of 14 Scottish Universities that works closely with companies to transfer advanced research to industry

Infrastructure and business support

Once of the primary forces of Scotland’s technology strategy is to bring together talented people in high tech, creative communities. Examples of these are the Seabraes Zone in Dundee and Edinburgh’s CodeBase digital tech hub. Dundee is renowned for its expertise in the digital industry - with a strong cluster of businesses based there, the city provides excellent opportunities for collaboration. CodeBase sits in the shadow of the city’s famous castle and offers world-class space for technology start-ups.

We're here to support companies who want to locate in Scotland. We can guide and partner you through the process, and help you identify opportunities, recruit your workforce, find a suitable location and access any development finance. Jeff Wright, CEO and founder of scientific measurement specialists Pyreos, sums up the support when he says, "There's tremendous resource there that can help you with sales, with people, and with overseas expansion in putting your brand out there in the marketplace."

Financial incentives for inward investors

Scotland (and the rest of the UK) already has a favourable business tax regime, and it will have the lowest Corporation Tax rate of all G20 countries by 2020.

Alongside this attractive tax environment, there are other financial incentives that could be applicable to software businesses. These include:

  • Regional Selective Assistance - aimed at encouraging capital investment and job creation in areas of Scotland designated for regional aid under European Community law
  • R&D Grants - covering a minimum 25% of total project costs, which includes salaries, equipment, location and other expenses
  • Training Plus - available to any business undertaking a mobile direct investment project anywhere in Scotland
  • R&D tax credit - reduces any potential tax burden by giving companies a tax credit based on R&D spend

It’s all about the people

No matter what sector you’re in, success invariably comes down to the skills, knowledge and ambitions of your people. Scotland’s credentials in that area stand up to any scrutiny.

Our 3.2 million working population is concentrated across the central belt, which includes the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling. Around one million workers live within thirty minutes travelling time to Glasgow, and over half a million within thirty minutes from Edinburgh. There’s a high multi-lingual capability with a pool on 109,000 workers fluent in a second language, including 18,000 who speak more than two languages fluently. In Scotland 74% of fluent speakers are educated to degree level or above compared with 57% across the UK as a whole.

Scotland’s ICT and digital workforce is growing fast. It currently stands at over 84,000, with a high proportion of degree-level qualified staff across a range of disciplines including software development, IT services and analytics.

Scotland’s talent pool is fuelled by our internationally-recognised education system. Around 70,000 people graduate from our 19 universities and 37 colleges each year. This includes around 5,000 with an ICT focus.

With UK labour market regulations among the most flexible in Europe, and highly competitive staffing costs, Scotland’s technology workforce has a great deal to offer any organisation.

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