Response to the Logan Report

The RSE has submitted a response to the Scottish Government on the review, and subsequent report, of the technology ecosystem in Scotland by Mark Logan. The review was commissioned by the Scottish Government and focuses on the role the sector can play in the economic recovery post-Covid, specifically the output of technology start-ups and spinouts in Scotland.

The RSE welcomes the report as it provides a useful insight into the importance of the sector to the Scottish economy, overview of existing environment and what needs to change. The response analyses what the report covers and identifies gaps before going on to address the recommendations presented within the subsections of: Network of Tech Scalers, Foundational Talent Pipeline, International Market Square, and Funding. The majority of recommendations are widely agreeable, and some have already been fulfilled; however, the RSE encourages the Scottish Government to consider the narrow focus of the report, wider technology sector, and existing infrastructure and initiatives, before implementing the recommendations.

The Logan Report will feed into the upcoming Digital Strategy for Scotland which is now being consulted on, and the RSE will continue to engage with the Scottish Government in this area.

Dr Shonaig Macpherson CBE FRSE discusses the RSE response to A Digital Strategy for Scotland.

Paper summary

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) welcomes the report into the Scottish Technology Ecosystem by Mark Logan (the Report). The Report provides a useful insight into the importance of the sector to Scotland’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. While the focus on technological innovation through start-ups and spinouts is welcomed, this does not represent the full technology ecosystem as the report title suggests.

The application and invention of technology are not fully considered in the Report in as much detail as one would hope. The former is crucially important across organisations in the private, public and third sectors, as they all rely on some form of technology in one way; further analysis of the application of new technologies across sectors in Scotland will be required. The latter is of growing importance in Scotland due to recent developments from the UK Government, as it is committing £8bn per year to fund scientific research and development.

The importance the report places on expanding and improving the provision of computing science in Scotland is broadly welcomed by the RSE. The issues that are identified by the Report have been impacting the provision of computing science over a significant period of time. We agree that improving the provision of computing science across all levels of education should be a key objective for the Scottish Government. This will require a range of interventions including those aimed at improving the attractiveness of teaching and the development of new models of teaching. The Scottish Government should consider existing research in this area before fulfilling the recommendations in the Report.

We support the recommendations made across the areas presented; Network of Tech Scalers, Foundational Talent Pipeline, International Market Square, and Funding. The Scottish Government has swiftly accepted all the recommendations which is welcome but as these are targeted there is a potential for unintended consequences. For instance, focusing solely on the recommendations without considering the wider tech sector could lead to other sub-sectors such as hardware and IT, being overlooked. Additionally, governance is critically important to the successful implementation of these recommendations; therefore, it is important that clarity is provided around how the recommendations will be implemented and to what extent government agencies will be involved and how success is to be measured.

There is an array of existing initiatives and projects that are aimed at supporting the sector in Scotland. The Report highlights that there is an unstructured approach across the existing infrastructure in Scotland. Therefore, we would encourage the Scottish Government to adopt a structured approach to supporting the technology ecosystem which will connect the existing initiatives, while boosting funding to better utilise the existing infrastructure across agencies and institutions. As work begins on implementing these recommendations, we look forward to engaging further with the Scottish Government in the development of the Digital Strategy for Scotland.