Scottish technology ecosystem: review

Review of the Scottish tech ecosystem by Mark Logan, commissioned by the Scottish Government, with recommendations on how to develop a world-class tech sector.


1 We’ll use the term “unicorn” here as a short-hand for relatively large-scale private tech companies, for example valued at £1B+ and typically employing several hundreds or thousands of people.

2 See Antifragility, Taleb.

3 The terms “local” and “global” apply with respect to the ecosystem model, no geographical inference should be made.

4 An investment round following seed rounds, when the start-up has market traction and wishes to scale operations, typically raising of circa £10m-£15m.

5 To be clear, we acknowledge that Scotland has, overall, a strong general education system. It’s as it pertains to the tech ecosystem specifically, and at each of its stages, where the commentary mainly applies.

6 This is another manifestation of the local versus global optimisation phenomenon.

7 Of course, this also improves youth employment prospects generally – higher-end computing skills lead to substantially enhanced employability, and at significantly higher than average salary levels.

8 Source: Scottish Teachers Census: between 2008 and 2018, number of teachers whose main subject is Computing Science has fallen by almost 23%.

9 Source: SQA Annual Statistics Report. From 2016-2018 (the last date for which analysis is available at the time of writing) National 5 participation in Computing Science fell by 19% (versus Mathematics, which fell by <1%) with a participation rate at 15% of Mathematics’ participation rate. Participation in Higher Computing Science fell by 8% over the same period (versus Mathematics, which fell by 1%) with a participation rate at 22% of Mathematics’ participation rate.

10 Source: SQA Annual Statistics Report.

11 Source: After the Reboot: Computing Education in UK Schools, The Royal Society.

12 In the sense of percentage of working hours available for the subject.

13 Source: SQA Annual Statistics Report


15 We acknowledge that university by no means is the only route from school towards the start-up world. It is, however, an extremely important avenue and one that we believe can be enhanced.

16 Co-founder of Google, with Sergey Brin

17 Historical examples of this career path include Google’s co-founders, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. The combined worth of their companies today is $4.5 trillion.

18 Note that the familiar and token “how to create a business plan” and similar courses provided to science students in the final year of study is not sufficient to create start-up savvy computing science graduates.

19 In this regard, the recent re-establishment of the post-study visa for foreign students in the UK is obviously welcome.

20 Source: The Muscatelli Report Driving Innovation in Scotland – A National Mission

21 Source: Nature: Guideline University Share of Equity Taken by US Universities

22 We explore in detail how to best support market square activities in our analysis of Ecosystem Infrastructure, later in this document.

23 The average age of students is 32, according to Codeclan.

24 DataLab also provides other services, of course, in its role as an Innovation Centre.

25 A general tech conference not specifically focussed on tech start-ups but includes relevant content.

26 Not solely a tech summit, but with a high degree of tech start-up content

27 The third category is debt, including venture debt, which we have considered to be outside the scope of this review.

28 Undoubtedly, the issues posed by COVID-19 will shift some of this effort online, which benefits Scotland. But we can probably safely assume that much relationship building and pitching will still be done in person.

29 Used here not in the geographic sense, but the systems sense.

30 where PMF stands for Product-Market-Fit, a key stage concept in the evolution of a start-up.

31 Source: Women’s Enterprise Scotland



Back to top