When it comes to problem-solving, it is a rare thing in the data world to find specialists who can bring physical and digital skills to the table.

It is one of the reasons why Angela Bishop joined the Swiss engineering and tech giant Zühlke, whose claim to fame is “we are either in your home or in your pocket”. 

For a company that has brought the world the Nespresso milk frother and NHS England’s Covid app, it is a neat summation of its breadth of capabilities.

But that wasn’t the only reason Bishop, the company’s UK chief executive, took up the challenge last year – following a long and distinguished career in tech consulting.

“For me, it was also about the mission – the ability to work on some of the most challenging and complex problems we face as a society,” she says. 

“That was a big motivating factor, and at Zühlke we are really focused on bringing our capabilities to bear to solve some of those problems at a global level.”

Scotland is fertile ground for the company’s many and diverse skillsets. With an economy geared towards a net zero revolution, energy is a vast and still largely untapped sector, a prospect the company firmly embraces. 

“We are thrilled to be in Scotland, which is at the forefront of the green  energy transition,” says Bishop. 

“There are huge opportunities to work right across the landscape – from renewables and decommissioning, to household consumption and power grids. 

“We are in the early stages of what will be one of the biggest and most transformational applications of digital technology – from smart energy networks to Internet of Things,” she says. 

Healthcare is another priority sector for the company in Scotland, where they aim to leverage technology to bring positive change across business and society. 

Zühlke is one of only a handful of consultancies in the UK capable of helping organisations in bringing certified medical devices to market. 

Since opening its Edinburgh office in 2022, Zühlke has been supporting the Scottish Ambulance Service to bring some congruity to its multitude of datasets – helping to link up systems and “get data flowing”. 

It is a painstaking task, but the benefits are incalculable: if hospital staff can’t easily access data recorded in an ambulance, clinicians have to repeat tests – creating inefficiencies or worse.

The company is also making strides in its outreach work with government agencies, the wider NHS in Scotland and a very active fintech cluster. 

“Scotland is seeing a lot of investment, across the board, and that’s really exciting,” says Bishop. 

“We’re keen on harnessing the skills that we have in other countries and jurisdictions and applying it to Scotland, across different fields. 

“For example, we aim to bring top-tier talent from sectors like sustainable energy to support Scotland’s pursuit of its net zero aspirations.”

In line with this vision, Zühlke has recently finalised an internal reorganisation geared towards prioritising climate goals. 

Bishop also has responsibility for expanding the client portfolio in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), facilitating enhanced knowledge sharing and collaboration. 

Essentially this means that Scottish clients of Zühlke, will have access to specialised “virtual teams” drawing upon the full spectrum of skills and experience within the company. 

“We think that’s super exciting. Internally, it creates efficiencies for us – allowing us to draw upon project work from similar client problems and share that knowledge for the benefit of others,” she says. 

“Again, in healthcare, for example, we have a long history in medical devices and med-tech, and we operate in a multitude of jurisdictions where healthcare providers have adopted our innovations.”

Bishop adds: “We see great synergies between that and where the NHS in Scotland is really gearing up for a system-wide technology-led transformation, with faster adoption pathways for new innovations in patient care. 

“And the benefit of working with us is that you don’t have to start the process from scratch.”

The timing is certainly propitious. The NHS in Scotland has established a regional network of innovation fellowships, and the Chief Scientist (Health) Office has formally partnered with the national Techscaler programme – to encourage the creation of new start-ups in the medical sector. 

The Accelerated National Innovation Adoption (ANIA) Pathway is another government-sponsored scheme designed to support a “Once for Scotland” approach to innovation.

“It’s a good time for healthcare,” says Bishop. “We are encouraged by all these signs of the willingness from government and the NHS to collaborate with industry, and work on these shared problems together.”

She says: “And that applies to the burgeoning energy sector, too. When it comes to wind generation, for example, there is a huge opportunity in Scotland, and our capabilities in hardware and software are extremely applicable in bridging the gap between physical and digital. 

“Given our experience as leaders in open data best practices for the UK energy sector, funded by UKRI, we recognise the need for enhanced collaboration among industry players to foster an ecosystem. 

“We’re still very much exploring the challenges emerging in this space – but if we can work on them together with the energy sector, I think that gets us closer to an energy transformation.”

But this will also require some frank discussions. The energy sector, both in Scotland and across the UK, comprises diverse players and suppliers. 

Despite pilot initiatives like Innovate UK’s Electric Vehicle Investor app – where disparate data sets were linked to establish an EV infrastructure data ecosystem, a project spearheaded by Zühlke – there has yet to be the creation of a viable data ecosystem – that enables effective collaboration and digitalisation. 

With Zühlke’s entry into the Scottish market, that goal may have just moved one step

Thirst for adventure and flair for tech

Originally from Brisbane, Australia, Angela Bishop, pictured below, always had a flair for tech. She studied IT and software engineering at Griffith University, before landing in the business world with various “hands-on” software roles. 

She moved to London in the early noughties where she made her way up the corporate ladder with global software consultancy Thoughtworks before taking up her current role with Zühlke last year. 

Outside work, her thirst for adventure and culture has seen her race a rickshaw across Indonesia for her honeymoon and backpack in south-east Asia for three months during maternity leave. 

Mother to two young children – aged eight and five – she has also set up an office in Ecuador with her previous firm and is a huge advocate for inclusivity and diversity at work and in the wider IT industry.

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