Scottish technology startup companies appear to be positive about a potential independent Scotland
IN a recent survey which was carried out by Informatics Ventures, 81 per cent of Scottish tech startups commented that the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union would have a negative effect on their business.
Of the 124 companies surveyed, 75 per cent said that the UK’s decision to leave the European Union would, combined with other factors, have an impact on their short to medium term plans for attracting and retaining talent, while 78 per cent said that it would have an effect, combined with other factors, on their ability to raise new investment.
Ian Ritchie, chairman of CAS Ltd, commented, “anything that interferes with the ability of talented young people to study in the UK, or that constrains high quality international researchers from working in our Elite univerisities, could severely damage our ability to invent and develop new innovative technologies.”
Hugh Ilyine of DestiNA commented, “grants that are connecting academic and biotech companies based in the UK will be big losers. At DestiNA with both UK and EU companies, we are better placed to enjoy the UK and Scottish opportunities, as well as EU.”
“We have excellent companies and if we can bring them together without Scottish Enterprise or public bodies getting in the way then we can do amazing stuff” David Irvine, Maidsafe
Professor of Entrepreneurship at Glasgow University, Colin Mason, urged that we looked at the big picture in Scotland. He said, “the rate of startup businesses in Scotland lags behing the rest of the UK and has done for many years. Unless an independent Scotland imposes economic gloom then I don’t see how the startup economy would be affected.
“What is more critical is the limited amount of startups which achieve growth in Scotland. The lack of scale-up of businesses is already a problem in Scotland and both Brexit and a potential independent Scotland may add uncertainty in terms of import/export trade.
“[In terms of growth] Scottish companies don’t just struggle to access finance but also struggle to access human capital due to a lack of majorly successful startups being based in Scotland.”
Michael Hayes, founder of Rookie Oven startup incubator was keen to talk about how an independent Scotland would have a positive effect on the startup companies that he nurtures through his Govan-based incubator.
Michael said; “As a country we’re a great place to base a tech company (we’re connected, low cost of living/staff, great scenery on our doorstep and fantastic amenities, nightlife and things to do) so I see it still being attractive to be based here. Main area I could see Scottish Independence having an effect is investment (a lot of startups rely on investment from London). However for me I’d like to see more Scottish startups have a global view. For finance, if you’re good enough, you can get investment from anywhere in the world.
“As a country we’re a great place to base a tech company (we’re connected, low cost of living/staff, great scenery on our doorstep and fantastic amenities, nightlife and things to do) so I see it still being attractive to be based here.” Michael Hayes, Rookie Oven
“At the Informatic Ventures Investment Conference (EIE) in 2012, Sir Jackie Stewart pointed out that globally there is money available (whether that be in the US or an oil rich country) – stock markets are volatile, commodities are difficult to gauge so investment is viable way to grow your wealth. Scottish companies should be looking to that regardless of what happens with Brexit and Scottish Independence.”
David Irvine, founder of Troon-based internet network, Maidsafe, is also vocal about his support for an indepdendent Scotland. “Being outside Five Eyes [an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom] and the like can only be very good. I believe there is a huge gap in the world market for safe secure countries to operate digital innovation and Scotland is prime position to exploit that. We have excellent companies and if we can bring them together without Scottish Enterprise or public bodies getting in the way then we can do amazing stuff, somehow include the Uni's and we can be world beating. 100 per cent independence would be a major boost for MaidSafe and similar companies.” – David Irvine, Maidsafe
Neil McEvoy, founder of Scotvote, a ‘knowledge community’ website for Scottish independence said “Scotland is being presented with a ‘perfect storm’ economic opportunity. The largest, most profound new markets are emerging in the tech sector most notably ‘the blockchain‘, that will drive a level of global economic growth that is hard to be imagined. It cares nothing for our petty squabbles and it will electronically transform our entire society and economies.
“Rapidly building capabilities to attract, host and grow these types of organizations, directed towards the economic needs of Scotland including our new infrastructure for Independence, is how we can ride this storm.”
John Peebles, CEO of software training provider, Administrate, was optimistic that an independent Scotland might have a more positive impact on Scottish immigration. He said, “we’re not too concerned either way – most startups have 52 more important problems! It could be beneficial for immigration though if Scotland gained full control of its borders.”
Photograph courtesy of Michael Hayes
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