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Techscaler for Singapore as Logan urges ‘patience’

Mark Logan: ‘We need to stay the course’ (pic: Terry Murden / DB Media Services)

Plans are under way to set up a techscaler hub in Singapore following the success of a pilot project in Silicon Valley, it emerged today.

The techscaler in California, which helps fast-track advice and funding for 12 early stage Scottish firms, has already proved its worth since it was launched in February with one firm expected to announce financial support.

Mark Logan, the Scottish government’s chief entrepreneurial adviser, said he is working with Scottish Development International to set up a second techscaler hub that will help business owners tap into investors and advisers in the Asia Pacific region.

“We are excited about this and we will work with SDI to explore what is possible,” he told the EIE24 pitching event for startups, advisers and investors.

Speaking afterwards he explained that the venture in San Francisco had been well received. However, there were differences in setting up in Asia, not least language and culture, but work was under way to get the project off the ground in what would represent a significant overseas statement.

He also revealed that he and Codebase, the incubator for startups, are now receiving enquiries from agencies in other parts of the UK and from overseas who are interested in adopting the techscaler idea and the model for growing a tech ecosystem outlined in his Scottish technology ecosystem review (STER) published in 2020.

“That has to be as big an endorsement as we can get,” he said. “It means Scotland is showing it can take the lead and I am excited about that.”

Speaking exclusively to Daily Business, Mr Logan said he believed that the changes taking place at Holyrood following the resignation of First Minister Humza Yousaf would not disrupt the progress made in building the tech ecosystem.

His appointment formally runs until July but has already been extended and he is encouraged by the current feedback to the strategy from across the political spectrum

Mark Logan says the ecosystem model is in demand overseas (pic: Terry Murden / DB Media Services)

“I get a feeling from all parties that there is a consensus around the initiatives we are pushing forward,” he said.

“It is regrettable what happened to Humza. He is a nice person and was taking an interest in what we are doing. It is not my business who becomes the next First Minister but I just urge them to continue with that focus.”

He cautioned against those who had grand ideas beyond Scotland’s capabilities and felt the money being raised by tech firms did not compare with the big tech regions of the world.

He said he was “genuinely happy with what has been achieved” and patience will be rewarded if all stakeholders stick to the plan.

“I am urging us to stay the course. In Estonia and Norway [two of the most successful tech nations] it did not matter who was in government or who was the senior civil servant.

“We need to avoid the Scottish disease of tearing things down.”

Mark Logan says politicians have bought into the ecosystem strategy (pic: Terry Murden)

Scotland has the highest number of universities per capita of any country in the world, he told the audience at the John Mcintyre Conference Centre.

“Are we making full use of that asset to drive the tech sector?” he asked, adding that Scotland needed a “second enlightenment” of technology ideas. He spoke of creating entrepreneurial campuses that would see a doubling in the number of spin-outs from universities.

Speaking afterwards he said these campuses were defined by creating incubator spaces, encouraging undergraduates to develop startups and for those with different skills to “collide”. They have entrepreneuers in residence and are connected to a network of techscalers and funders.

“Universities are great at research and teaching and it is vital to add an entrepreneurial feel. A lot of those things are happening right now,” he said.

“It’s what you see at MIT and Stanford. A third of students are at Stanford because they want to start a company.”

Poonam Malik: investors need certainty (pic: Terry Murden / DB Media Services)

Among those pitching at this year’s event was Poonam Malik who chairs a Glasgow-based medtech company called MicroplateDX that is seeking £7.5 million, one of the biggest cash calls.

Speaking before the event she said there appeared to be fewer international investors present and it would probably be necessary to take the Scottish pitching event ‘on the road’.

“This is not just in Scotland, it seems international investors are not travelling so much,” she said

She stressed the importance of creating the right political as well as economic conditions for investors and for Scotland therefore to settle affairs at Holyrood.

“Investors don’t like turbulence. At least what we are seeing is just short term,” she said.

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