Positive trajectory

Cyber security is key driver in tech rebound

Karen Meechan
Karen Meechan: sector back in growth mode

Growth in cyber security, data analytics and artificial intelligence led to a sharp rebound for Scottish technology businesses last year, with 72% of companies reporting increased sales following a 44% drop in 2020.

A third (31%) of tech businesses are now seeing cyber security in particular as an opportunity, according to the annual Scottish Technology Industry Survey by trade body ScotlandIS.

However, while the sector is on a positive trajectory, exports are in decline. Last year saw a reduction in exports to 56%, and one in five Scottish tech businesses has no plans to export this year.

Of those planning to export, key markets are Europe (68%), rest of the UK (77%) and North America (60%).

A shortage of skills is becoming increasingly challenging for the industry to manage and will continue to be a priority this year as it remains one of the top barriers – alongside pandemic recovery – to achieving ambitions.

Karen Meechan, CEO of ScotlandIS, said: “Data gathered from this year’s survey gives clear signals that the tech sector is back in growth mode after weathering initial impacts of the pandemic.

“As it comes to the end of the academic year for many Scottish students, we are pleased to see how many organisations across the sector are planning to recruit graduates, but the year ahead will require continued collaboration across industry, academia, and our education system to build a pipeline of talent within Scotland. We’ll continue to do as much as we can to support that.”

Economy Secretary Kate Forbes said: “It is encouraging to see more technology businesses in Scotland reporting increased sales, in line with the return to pre-pandemic retail sales levels more generally.

“We want to establish Scotland as one of Europe’s leading start-up economies – that is why the Scottish Government is committed to the most radical reforms of the Scottish entrepreneurial system since devolution.

“A key ambition in our strategy to transform the economy is to establish Scotland as a world-class entrepreneurial country, founded on a culture that encourages, promotes and celebrates entrepreneurial activity.”

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