US software firm Brightree to expand in Scotland

A US-based software specialist is looking to grow its Scottish workforce to as many as 200 over the next two years,
despite the country’s tech sector facing a skills shortage.

It has been estimated that if Scotland became a digital world leader, GDP would increase by £13 billion by 2030.

A US-based software specialist is looking to grow its Scottish workforce to as many as 200 over the next two years,
despite the country’s tech sector facing a skills shortage.

The move by Brightree, which develops cloud-based software for the health sector, will be seen as a welcome boost, with the firm’s Scottish boss stressing that other international firms would benefit from setting up a base in Scotland.

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Dave Cormack, the company’s chief executive and president, told Scotland on Sunday that the firm is aiming to grow its research and development staffing in Scotland to between 150 and 200, and double its
total turnover from $120 million (£79m) over the next three to four years.

It follows the announcement earlier this month of the opening of a Glasgow office, ultimately creating up to 100 jobs as part of planned investment of about $50m north of the Border over the next four years.

The group operates in the US healthcare system, focusing on patient treatment outside a hospital or medical practice, for example home-care.

It can provide medical staff with across-the-board access to a patient’s data to provide a “holistic” service – an area of the market that is being targeted as health costs in the United States spiral and the population ages.

Currently there is “no transparency of data to try and connect the dots,” Cormack said. “What that means for Brightree is that it’s a marketplace that’s exploding in terms of size,” he added. It is estimated that the sector will at least double in size over the next five to ten years.

The software industry veteran said the Atlanta-based firm was the first to the marketplace with a cloud-enabled platform for small healthcare businesses which could not individually afford such a system.

The company now has nearly 500 staff, serving about 2,500 customers. Regarding its move to Scotland, Cormack said that about four years ago it found itself battling a shortage of qualified software engineers, about 15 per cent behind its hiring plan and missing deadlines.

Identifying that Aberdeen has many workers used to dealing with “mission-critical” applications from work in the oil industry, Brightree decided to set up in the city. Cormack is also a former director of Aberdeen Football Club.

He said that about a year ago, the company again found itself in the same situation, and so earlier this month it opened its Glasgow office, which he said provides access to a large pool of suitable workers.

There is plenty of opportunity to bring more jobs to Scotland in this way in other sectors, he believes, stating: “I think that there’s a quality offering that the country has to offer the US business community,” he said.

Cormack also said Brightree is acquisitive, having already bought up customer bases from legacy competitors in the US.

The company’s recruitment drive comes despite growing concerns about a lack of workers in Scotland with necessary digital skills, magnified by an increasing amount of job vac­ancies in this area.

Earlier this year, trade body ScotlandIS found that 83 per cent of digital technology firms plan to grow staff numbers. The organisation’s chief executive, Polly Purvis, said at the time: “The skills gap is be­ginning to hit home, causing wage inflation and making it harder for companies to retain experience.

“By dealing with this problem now we will ensure that our industry is able to continue to grow and contribute to the Scottish economy.”