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Scottish firms selected for Tech Nation AI cohort

The UK leads Europe in artificial intelligence investment (pic: H Heyerlein)

Tech Nation, the growth platform for tech companies and leaders, announced that three Scottish companies will be among the 32 companies selected to join the Applied AI Growth programme.

The programme has been designed to champion and support the UK’s most exceptional deep tech scaleups through peer-to-peer learning and mentoring sessions, addressing the particular scaling challenges for companies in the AI sector.

It forms part of the Government’s AI Sector Deal, announced in 2019 to realise the social and economic benefits of AI and harness its potential to transform people’s lives for the better. 

Continuum Industries, Edinburgh, helps engineering professionals to design big, complex infrastructure projects better and faster. Its product, Optioneer, lets multi-disciplinary design teams automate their existing design process and use AI to explore millions of design options and find the best ones in hours rather than months. 

Matt Blythe, co-founder and CCO, said: “We’re really excited to learn from other founders, take advantage of their networks and raise awareness within the UK government of our technology.” 

Machine Labs, Edinburgh, is an automated email marketing solution for e-commerce stores. It harnesses data science and implements AI to improve email communications, helping store owners to develop quality customer relationships and exponentially boost their sales.

Dr Thomas Gambino, data scientist, said: “We help small stores on Shopify compete with e-commerce giants by applying the power of artificial intelligence to their marketing.” 

Talking Medicines, Glasgow, uses AI to provide pharmaceutical companies with real-time data intelligence.

Elizabeth Fairley, COO, said: “We are so excited about this opportunity – the timing is perfect for us to take our disruptive and scalable data intelligence product to the next level. Through this programme we are keen to push our boundaries, connect with the very best in AI and learn as much as we can.”


More than half (59%) of companies joining the programme are based outside of London, with the highest representation from the South East, East of England and Scotland.

Almost half (44%) have a female founder, almost double the representation of female tech directors (23%) in UK tech. A third (34%) of companies are applying AI to the construction industry, while 28% are using AI to solve healthcare challenges. 

The UK leads Europe in AI investment, having raised $1.48bn in 2020 so far, in front of France ($538.83m) and Germany ($400.25m). The UK is currently third in the world for VC investment in AI after the US ($17.94bn) and China ($9.55bn).

Demand for AI skills is continuing to rise in the UK, with an increase of 111% between 2017 and 2019.

A quarter (25%) of all Data Scientist roles advertised in 2019 required AI as a skill, this was the highest proportion seen amongst digital tech roles in 20192.

Harry Rhys Davies, AI programme lead, Tech Nation commented: “The UK must take every opportunity to nurture scalable, globally-competitive, homegrown AI companies that solve real problems and have far-reaching impacts on the productivity potential of the economy.” 

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