Scotland eyes potential of visit from Asian business leaders

An Asian business leaders summit taking place in Edinburgh next week aims to showcase local data capabilities and encourage inward investment.

Edinburgh has been chosen in part for its tech company landscape. Picture: Ian Rutherford.

The 2019 ConnectGov Leaders Summit runs from 8 to 10 July and will see around 80 technology and business leaders from across Asia – from sectors including banking, insurance and car manufacturing – come to the Scottish capital to learn about data-driven innovation and make business connections.

The event is run by CIO Academy Asia (CIOAA), helped by Scottish Enterprise/Scottish Development International (SDI).

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CIOAA has this year chosen Edinburgh for the annual event due to its innovation centres and universities, tech company landscape, City Deal ambition to become the data capital of Europe and investment in data driven-innovation.

The trip includes visits to the University of Edinburgh’s £45 million Bayes Centre building, tech incubator CodeBase and RBS Business School as well as hearing from organisations such as FinTech Scotland, top global businesses, and Scottish data start-ups.

Graeme White, head of inward investment at SDI, told The Scotsman: “We’re really interested in working as a catalyst to help Scottish companies link back into these businesses once they return to Asia, with the opportunity perhaps to get involved in their supply chain,” he said, also highlighting the benefits of locating part of their operations in Scotland as inward investors.

“A lot of [Asian] companies who’ve done really well in-country, whether it’s Singapore or China or India… are looking at globalising their businesses now.”

Delegates will hear from Edinburgh-based business leaders including John Peebles of training management platform Administrate – who was born in the US and raised mostly in China – as well as Julie Grieve of tourism app Criton, Steve Ewing of Informatics Ventures, and Jude McCorry of The Data Lab.

Visitors come from industries such as property, IT, hospitality and healthcare as well as financial services – such as Thai lender Bank of Ayudhya and Singapore-based banking giant DBS.

White believes that for Scottish business, Singapore provides a great springboard into Asia – while he sees great potential overall for tie-ups between Scotland and the continent in financial services – saying Scotland punches above its weight in the creation of fintech firms, which fuse finance and data. A report from EY published last month found that Scotland continued to be the most attractive location for international investment into financial services outside London.

As for what White would like the forthcoming trade visit to achieve, he stated: “I think to have these business leaders going back to Asia with a positive view of Scotland, and hopefully a little bit surprised at the capabilities that we have here – and that they’ll come back and visit us to work with Scottish companies and they’ll come back to think about investing here.”