Chief Executive of Scotland’s tech trade body to stand down and take up new role with economic development agency

The boss of Scotland’s tech trade body is to step down from the post to take up a new role with an economic development agency for the south of Scotland.

Jane Morrison-Ross, chief executive of ScotlandIS, will move to the recently-established South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) – which covers Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders – in February next year.

Morrison-Ross, who was appointed as the successor to Polly Purvis OBE at ScotlandIS – the membership and cluster management organisation for the digital technologies industry in Scotland – in July 2019 – will become the first permanent chief executive of the new economic and community development agency.

The news was announced by ScotlandIS in a private email to members on Tuesday morning, before being published as a news release on the South of Scotland Enterprise website.

Morrison-Ross, who prior to ScotlandIS was CEO of Taigh Chearsabhagh in North Uist focusing on a five-year strategy for local economic regeneration, including jobs, housing and wellbeing in rural communities, and who also spent 17 years working with Capgemini UK Plc in several senior roles, was appointed after a 10-week recruitment process launched on 7 September 2020.

Professor Russel Griggs OBE, Chair of South of SOSE said: “I am really delighted that we have found such an outstanding CEO in Jane to lead our team at SOSE into the future. We have embarked on such an incredible journey for the South of Scotland so I am sure that with Jane’s experience and enthusiasm we will continue to drive forward our vision and passion for our region.

“Jane adds to the incredible team that we have been steadily building and we have almost 70 members of staff now. We also have an exceptional Board who have a broad range of knowledge and experience and have already showed since we started, their passion and commitment both to SOSE and the South of Scotland.

“I would like to thank Nick Halfhide for the great work he has done as Interim CEO of SOSE to get us off the ground. His leadership and commitment to the role in these challenging times will allow us to continue to build upon the momentum that we have all created into the future.”

Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing said: “This is an important step for SOSE and I welcome Jane’s appointment as CEO.

“SOSE has a critical role in supporting jobs, investment and growth and the green recovery. Jane brings a wealth of skills and experience and I look forward to seeing SOSE continue to grow under her leadership, building on the work already done to deliver on our ambitions for the South of Scotland.”

The South of Scotland Economic Partnership (SoSEP) had been set up as an interim arrangement in 2018 while the new statutory body, South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) was being established, officially going live on April 1 this year. The Scottish Government has supported SOSEP and the work to deliver the new agency with £13.3m this financial year.

Its remit is to respond to the economic needs and opportunities of the South of Scotland, with a work plan agreed to focus on issues including an ageing population, depopulation by younger people, a challenging geography that impacts on infrastructure such as digital connectivity, low productivity, wages and fewer high skilled jobs.

Morrison-Ross has supported the technology industry in Scotland in all its specialisms from Space and Climate tech, AI, robotics, Agri-tech, healthtech and more. In 2020, Jane she has been working on Connecting Scotland (the Scottish Government led digital inclusion programme) and the Digital Nation Challenge in partnership with the Scottish Government’s Digital Directorate.

She said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with Russel and to take up the reins from Nick. He and the team at SOSE have done an incredible job so far in hugely challenging circumstances.

“The SOSE region covers an area of Scotland rich in heritage but also with huge future potential. We will continue to be innovative, entrepreneurial, and focused on delivering for the individuals, communities, businesses and economy of the South of Scotland.”

In an email to members, ScotlandIS wished its chief executive well for the future and said that plans to appoint her successor were already underway to ensure a smooth transition ahead of February 2021.