These are a few of my favourite Internet of Things - Nick Freer

I had the pleasure of visiting IBM’s global internet of things (IoT) headquarters in Munich in 2016, during a trip to Bavaria organised by former Scottish trade representative to Germany and Austria, David Scrimgeour. One of IBM’s senior guys showing us around that day was a Scot, who asked me what experience I had of working with IoT companies back in Scotland.

IBM's global Internet of Things headquarters, Munich, Germany

At that time, I was advising former University of Edinburgh light technology spin-out PureLiFi for a few years, but it was the only company that immediately came to mind on the Scottish scene. Fast forward five years, and the global IoT market is motoring, its value set to reach over $1 trillion by 2024. It’s important that Scotland gets a spot at the table and grabs a decent portion, rather than only the crumbs.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been planning for two press announcements that should help stamp Scotland’s ticket to the IoT big dance. This week, Glasgow-headquartered R3-IoT secured a £3.1 million investment led by New York-based venture capital firm Space Capital, which invested alongside Scottish National Investment Bank. One small step for Scotland’s already fast-growing space sector, one giant leap for Allan Cannon and Kevin Quillien-founded R3-IoT.

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The company’s digital platform combines satellite, cellular, IoT and data analytics to provide organisations with data services from any location - important when you consider that 90 per cent of the planet lacks traditional communications infrastructure and many industries have operations in remote or challenging environments.

Nick Freer is the founding director of strategic corporate communications agency Freer Consultancy

Space Capital’s managing partner Chad Anderson sees Scotland as “the perfect testbed” for R3-IoT’s technology and “huge demand” for the company’s services in global markets. We were pleased to see great take-up of the announcement, including in the US space press, which has got to be a cool industry to cover as a journalist. And if you were a space hack, surely you would consider having “to infinity and beyond” on your business card.

Next week, an initiative will be announced, one we are supporting on the media front, that aims to amp up the IoT sector here and deliver globally competitive IoT companies based in Scotland. As they say, watch this space.

Another homegrown Scottish IoT-enabled company we have been working with recently is Dave Hughes-founded Novosound, which celebrates its third anniversary this year and is now selling its Kelpie and Belenus non-destructive testing (NDT) products, named after mythical Scots legends, to large aerospace and energy companies worldwide. Novosound completed its latest investment round towards the end of 2019, growing its team and honing its product development since then.

On Scotland’s tech ecosystem, and its prospects to become an IoT powerhouse, Hughes remarks:

“Emerging from the coronavirus crisis, the IoT sector is in a far better place than most others due to the impact of Covid-19. This is accelerating the demand for increased safety and efficiency from remote monitoring, which is where IoT really shines. We’ve seen around 10 years of progress in the last 18 months.”

“As a country that prides itself on innovation and is home to top universities and innovation centres, Scotland has the necessary foundations to establish itself as an innovative global leader in the IoT space.”

Nick Freer is the founding director of strategic corporate communications agency the Freer Consultancy

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