Digital master

Logan to oversee ‘world class’ tech ecosystem plan

Report: Mark Logan advised on the digital strategy

Mark Logan, who last year produced a blueprint for the Scottish government’s digital strategy, has been appointed to oversee its implementation.

The former Skyscanner executive and professor of computing science at the University of Glasgow will advise ministers on building a ‘world class’ tech ecosystem. 

The programme will be backed in its first year by £7 million from the Scottish Government. This will include a £1m fund to invest in tech conferences, meet-ups or training programmes as recommended in Prof Logan’s report.

Procurement will open later this year for five hubs known as “tech scalers” which aim to stimulate about 300 start-ups over the next five years.

Prof Logan will be supported by an advisory board which will include FanDuel co-founder Lesley Eccles, Roan Lavery, co-founder of online accounting firm FreeAgent,  Sarah Ronald, founder of Nile HQ service design agency and Stephen Ingledew, executive chairman of FinTech Scotland.

Lesley Eccles: board member

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said: “Mark is one of the most respected figures in Scotland’s tech scene and his experience, passion and global profile will be invaluable in our joint mission to elevate the tech ecosystem to world-class level. 

“The expertise and industry perspective of the advisory board will also be instrumental in ensuring we create the conditions and infrastructure needed to incubate a stream of start-ups that reach sustained profitability and can do so at scale. 

“From attracting young people into computing science courses to supporting a community of high-growth businesses, this programme of work will be critical in determining the future contribution of Scotland’s tech sector to our economic recovery.”

Online travel business Skyscanner was one of Scotland’s first “unicorns” – a company valued at more than $1 billion. Professor Logan joined the Edinburgh-based firm as chief operating officer in 2012 and remained until its acquisition in 2017. 

He said:  “It’s very exciting to witness the shared sense of mission and ambition across government, industry and the education sector in bringing the tech ecosystem review’s recommendations to life. I’m pleased to have the support of such an experienced board as we strive to make Scotland a leading technology economy.”

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Prof Logan’s Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review was published in August 2020 and the Scottish Government has committed to implementing its recommendations.

A full list of board members will be published ahead of its first meeting in May.

The £1 million Ecosystem Fund is expected to open for applications in summer 2021.

A document setting out the Scottish Government’s initial expectations of tech scalers will be published shortly and used as a basis for discussions with potential bidders.

Work to develop the technology sector will contribute to the successful delivery of Scotland’s updated digital strategy which was published this month and complements the artificial intelligence strategy published earlier this week.

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