Scots IoT-focused accelerator centre debuts, aiming to create hundreds of jobs

A venture described as Scotland’s first smart things accelerator centre (Stac) has launched, aiming to jumpstart the nation’s Internet of Things (IoT) sector and create 25-plus companies and hundreds of jobs within three years.

The Filament Stac accelerator is an 18-month programme that will support ten companies in each cohort, and is supported by a “world-class” tech partnership ecosystem in Scotland.

It is partly modelled on a programme in Ontario, Canada – the Accelerator Centre in Waterloo – that has supported around 650 start-ups that have created more than 4,000 jobs, and the centre’s founder Tim Ellis has been lined up as a consultant to the Scottish project.

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Filament Stac says it will build on the IoT foundations already put in place by Censis, Scotland’s innovation centre for sensing, imaging and IoT technologies, and Glasgow-headquartered product design firm Filament.

From left: Filament Stac leaders Paul Wilson, Gregor Aikman and Evelyn McDonald. Picture: Stewart Attwood.

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The three-year targets for Filament Stac in Scotland encompass the creation of more than 25 IoT companies supporting around 750 jobs, reporting revenue in the region of £750 million, with cohort companies raising investment in excess of £100m.

Filament Stac, which starts at Skypark in Glasgow in October, added that it is underpinned by an industry-government partnership that will see Scottish Enterprise support the first phase of growth alongside Filament, electronics manufacturing services focused Plexus Corp, and Censis.

The new centre’s leadership team includes chief executive Paul Wilson, boss of Wallflower Labs Inc and former top executive at BlackBerry. Product design firm Filament’s co-founder and managing director Gregor Aikman has been named chief operating officer, while Plexus Corp’s executive vice-president and regional president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa Ronnie Darroch becomes non-executive chair, with Censis chief executive Paul Winstanley and Filament’s Craig Lynn both appointed non-executive directors.

What’s more, a high-profile advisory board that includes former Dyson chief executive Jim Rowan, Scottish Edge boss Evelyn McDonald, and Richard Lewis who chairs a number of tech start-ups in Scotland.

Mr Wilson said: “We believe Scotland has the potential to be a main player in smart, connected devices, and moving ahead with the accelerator gives us a real chance to gain a leading position in an IoT sector forecast to reach $1.5 trillion (£1.1tn) over the next few years."

Ambitious

“Beringar and R3-IoT are bright stars in Scotland with huge potential, but we need more – and Stac will make the scale-up journey quicker and easier.”

"We have great talent here in Scotland, which we export incredibly well to leading global tech companies. We evidently do less well in producing international Scottish tech companies of scale. Filament Stac will address this by developing highly ambitious Scottish IoT companies that will be ready to go out and compete on the global stage.”

Scottish Enterprise is supporting the new centre with a grant of £223,000 over three years. Linda Hanna, interim chief executive at the economic development agency, welcomed the launch of Filament Stac “as it’s vital that Scottish manufacturers embrace IoT to scale up, internationalise and also use the opportunities from ‘smart things’ to improve connectivity, capability, monitoring and data, not least to help drive our green economic recovery".

The Filament Stac programme remains open for applications, while the centre plans to open offices in Singapore and Canada over the next two years, and says high-profile industry partnerships are in the pipeline.

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