Ewan Kinnear: How Scots tech firms can shape the future

Recent advances in technology that will fundamentally transform the way we live and work have experts heralding the advent of a fourth industrial revolution.

'Technology businesses can scale up at an incredible rate,' says Ewan Kinnear. Picture: John Devlin
'Technology businesses can scale up at an incredible rate,' says Ewan Kinnear. Picture: John Devlin

The “internet of things” (IoT), big data, robotics and artificial intelligence are no longer buzzwords but serious technological innovations, revolutionising businesses across all types of industry.

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According to IDC, worldwide spending on robotics will reach £144 billion in 2020, with IoT spending forecast to grow 17 per cent this year alone.

Research from Skills Development Scotland and the Digital Technologies Skills Group found that the sector is forecast to grow twice as fast as the Scottish economy between now and 2024.

With Scotland home to a booming technology sector that shows no sign of slowing down, there is huge potential for our home-grown tech businesses to play a transformative role in what’s to come.

Firms will start to see an increase in demand from businesses across a range of sectors looking to capitalise on the benefits of technology to drive innovation and support international expansion.

A wealth of skill, expertise and investment will need to be poured into the sector if it’s going to successfully deliver against expectations – and this means growth on a big scale.

To drive a productive economy during this time of change, it is vital that technology firms have a greater level of support earlier in the business life cycle.

We understand that a traditional overdraft or a business loan may not meet the needs of a fast-moving technology firm, whether it be a start-up looking to recruit and retain talent or a hi-tech product based company moving to invest in research and development.

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This is because the sector does not adhere to the conventional route to market, where products can take a considerable amount of time to reach end users. Technology businesses can scale up at an incredible rate.

The biggest challenge facing firms is finding and securing the next-level capital needed to fund strategic growth plans. It’s even more important that they have access to fluid, agile funding options.

For this reason, optimising working capital is crucial particularly to technology businesses that experience a sharp increase in outgoing expenditure before seeing a proportionate increase in profit.

To help bridge that gap, businesses must ensure they have access to the right type of working capital to meet essential business costs – from covering payroll and tax, to funding bigger strategies such as product development and site relocation.

Working with a trusted advisor who has knowledge and expertise in the sector will prove to be invaluable.

Ewan Kinnear, relationship director, commercial banking, Bank of Scotland

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