For centuries Scotland has been the home of innovation. Names like Logie Baird, Watt and Carnegie are synonymous with Scottish entrepreneurship and success. Between them they have given us the television, the steam engine and America’s steel industry (and a network of public libraries thanks to Andrew Carnegie’s altruistic leanings).
So, what do they all have in common? Scotland. For such a small country it arguably punches way above its weight, and can lay claim to many everyday items the world can’t live without: Penicillin, Grand Theft Auto, ATM machines, golf, radar and the MRI scanner, the bicycle and decimal fractions– the question is, why?
The Royal Society of Chemistry previously held a symposium in Glasgow to examine the what makes Scots tick and examine what we’re made of. Ideas were varied, but education, education, education seems to play as significant a factor as location, location, location. For centuries Scots have had a healthy respect for education, and a sense of kudos and achievement when attaining a place at university.
These days, the brightest brains and most innovative products are making their way to Scotland, no matter where in the world they began. Names like Morgan Stanley, Mitsubishi, JP Morgan, Amazon, Outplay Entertainment, Zonefox and Barclays have found a new home in Scotland.
Their reasons are easy to understand. Through Scottish Development International, the international arm of Scottish Enterprise, Scotland can woo investors with start-up costs of up to 40 per cent less than in other parts of the UK, with businesses being able to hit the ground running within two weeks of first inquiry. Add to that a vibrant talent pool, diverse and strong company clusters, the greatest concentration of universities in Europe and five international airports within easy reach of most of the population; it’s as well connected a country as you could wish for.
Stephen Flaherty, managing director at JP Morgan, put it simply: “Why invest in Scotland? The primary reason … is talent.”
Earlier this year California-based Cloudwick Technologies picked Glasgow as its new European headquarters. The firm offers data technology services to the likes of Visa and Nike, and needed a strong base with the right kind of people.
What attracted them was Glasgow’s reputation as a centre for the collection, analysis, security and applications of big data. The city has a wealth of big data knowledge and expertise thanks to the Urban Big Data Centre in the University of Glasgow and the Data Lab, which provide training and information on practical applications, as well as the University of Glasgow's data science postgraduate programme.
Given the importance of collaboration and cooperation in data collection and analysis, this concentration of expertise makes Glasgow an ideal location for big data projects.
"We are excited to begin our European journey from Scotland, one of the fastest growing big data ecosystems in the world," said Harshdeep Singh, director of operations for Cloudwick Technology.
Not only is Scotland an attractive location for overseas companies looking to invest there is also a vibrant and growing group of innovative companies developing tomorrow’s technologies. Companies like Pure Lifi, Cloudgine, Stream, TV Squared and Sensewhere are all leading the way with new and innovative technologies.
The 21st century innovators may not have names synonymous – yet - with Scotland, but they are following in a lucrative, well-trodden path by investing in its broad talent base. Scotland continues to benefit from its early scientific reputation and is still considered a natural hot-house of brilliant young minds, eager to challenge authority and the status quo and find new ways in the world.
The future is just beginning. Visit sdi.co.uk/technology for more information.