Numbers double at technology incubator

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THE number of companies at a Scottish Government backed technology incubator has nearly doubled to 21, creating 31 jobs in software, electronics, energy, digital media and medical technology sectors over the past 18 months, a new evaluation has shown.

The Alba Innovation Centre in Livingston has also boosted the number of firms it supports through its “virtual” incubation hub. The success of the programme means Alba tenants have a higher than average survival rate of 85 per cent, the incubator claims.

Peter Andrew, the recently appointed head of innovation support at Alba, said the incubator had now reached sufficient “critical mass” to enable the companies it hosts to thrive. The operation was launched six years ago.

Recently resident medical device company Dysis Medical raised £7.4 million to fund expansion into overseas markets. Another resident, Cyberhawk, which has developed a remote control helicopter for observing oil and gas facilities, more than doubled its staff to 18 in the past year.

Andrew said the incubator “took time to find its niche and its place in the environment” because of its location.

He said: “Being based in Livingston as opposed to Edinburgh or Glasgow, it took a while to attract the right clients. There have been several good clients come through and deals are happening. The centre is 90 per cent capacity and we are getting two or three new clients a month.”

The centre is managed by Innovation Centres Scotland (ICS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Lanarkshire Enterprise Services Ltd (LESL), but is funded by Scottish Enterprise. Last year the enterprise body extended the incubator’s funding for two more years.

David Smith, director of innovation at Scottish Enterprise, said: “In October last year Scottish Enterprise approved funding of £1.3m to contribute to the ongoing operation of the centre as a successful incubator of innovative companies for the next two years.

“The funds will be used to continue the excellent work being done on the site.”