Progress report

Techscaler ’empowering startups’ says minister

Mairi McAllan: one of our ambitious initiatives (pic: Terry Murden / DB Media Services)

Mairi McAllan, the Economy Secretary, today hailed the success of a the Techscaler initiative but indicated that the government would not be a primary source of future financial support.

The programme attracted investment of more than £52 million in 2023, according to the project’s first annual report.

The initiative assisted more than 500 companies in its first year, and now has nearly 2,500 members.

Techscaler is delivered by tech incubator Codebase. It was launched to help fledgling companies and entrepreneurs start and scale-up their businesses through education programmes, expert mentoring and a growing network of physical hubs.

More than a third of those enrolling in one the programme’s education courses were women, compared to the startup industry average of 20%.

Ms McAllan told a gathering at Yotel in Edinburgh: “By empowering startups, we are creating a strong economy built on entrepreneurship, innovation, and sustainable growth.

“The Techscaler programme continues to be one of our most ambitious economic initiatives. Indeed, there is no other programme of its kind in Europe.

“Entrepreneurship is at the heart of our National Strategy for Economic Transformation. We are creating one of the finest state-funded entrepreneurial systems in the world dedicated to the creation of high-growth businesses and the first annual report shows we are already seeing a return on our investment.

“Scotland has the potential to become a leading start-up nation and this government’s clear aim is to unleash innovation and entrepreneurial talent from all walks of life and in all parts of the country.

“That Techscaler participants have raised a combined £301 million in lifetime capital so far shows the enormous economic potential of our startup community, and we will continue to help them capitalise on this success.”

The government’s chief entrepreneurial adviser Mark Logan addressed the gathering via a pre-recorded video.

He said the programme had evolved into a “fantastic and internationally recognised” tech ecosystem and has forged more than 50 partnerships with other organisations to further the impact of technology in the wider economy.

Mark Logan
Mark Logan: expect major developments (pic: Terry Murden / DB Media Services)

“Techscaler has already established itself as a vital part of Scotland’s entrepreneurial support infrastructure, and this is only the beginning. Expect major developments in 2024, as the Techscaler platform continues to consolidate, integrate, and evolve. In the meantime, I commend the CodeBase team for its outstanding progress to date.” 

Speaking to Daily Business after the event, the minister said she was determined to build on the initiative, though not necessarily through additional public money.

“What has to be worked on is the investment community,” she said, adding that limiting support to what the public sector can provide is not the route to go down. She would be keen to see more sources of funding in Scotland, such as venture capital.

“Government’s role is to be supportive and create confidence where the market doesn’t go,” she said.

She recognised the need to invest more in computer science teachers and said she would be talking to the Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth.

CodeBase CEO Stephen Coleman said in a statement: “At its heart, Techscaler aims to make Scotland the best place in the world for founders to launch and grow a tech startup.  At CodeBase, we’ve been privileged to propel this groundbreaking ecosystem-building programme into existence for the Scottish Government. We can’t wait to build on this foundation in year two.”

One of those who benefited from the programme, CEO and founder of Playmaker Alex Gordon-Furse, said: “The support that Techscaler provides to startups at all stages of their journey has been really influential in the ecosystem over the last year.

“I was part of the cohort of founders who went out to San Francisco in February as part of Techscaler Silicon Valley, and the experience was exactly what I needed, at exactly the right time.

“It’s helped bring about a step-change in how I’m developing my product, and brought me together with a group of ambitious founders that I know will provide valuable peer support throughout my startup journey.”



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