Scotland's agricultural heritage to be celebrated with £27,000 student digital media prize

A Scots technology entrepreneur has put up a five-figure prize fund for digital media content creators at Edinburgh’s Queen Margaret University (QMU).

George Mackintosh’s Papple Steading Digital Media Prize competition will support students and recent alumni. Contestants will be tasked with producing engaging digital media content celebrating Lothian and Scotland’s contributions to global agriculture between the 18th and 20th centuries.

The winning works will be displayed at Papple Steading’s agricultural heritage museum.

Mackintosh bought Papple Steading in East Lothian in 2017. He plans to create an agricultural heritage museum, business destination and community centre.

Entrepreneur George Mackintosh at Papple Steading in East Lothian. Picture: Stewart Attwood

Mackintosh, who has put up £27,000 for the competition, said: “East Lothian has a wonderful industrial, seafaring and agricultural heritage. The partnership with QMU will bring to digital life the stories of how our agricultural heritage changed the county’s social and physical landscape and how innovators in this part of Scotland had a huge impact on the development of farming and food production around the world.

“The project has extra meaning for me as my father was a farmer and my mother studied at QMU,” he added.

Last June, Eggplant, the software testing business Mackintosh founded in 2009, was acquired by California-headquartered Keysight Technologies.

Edinburgh-based Mackintosh previously founded 3i-backed audio, video and web conferencing business Geoconference in Glasgow in 1996, with the company being sold to Global Crossing (now CenturyLink) in 2000.

Mackintosh is also the chairman of shellfish exporter Laeso Fish, vice-chairman of the CBI’s SME council, and an associate and former entrepreneur-in-residence at the University of Edinburgh Business School.

Professor David Stevenson, acting dean of QMU’s school of arts, social sciences and management, said: “This is a great opportunity for our students and graduates to bring the stories of our shared agricultural history to life, whilst also gaining the practical experience of turning a concept into a viable pitch and budget.

“This is the beginning of a very exciting partnership with Papple Steading, and we are very grateful for their support.”

Papple Steading originally sat within the Whittingehame Estate, whose laird at the time was AJ Balfour, the British Prime Minister between 1902 and 1905.

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