A business consultancy and accounting firm has established a tech advisory panel to advise clients on how to drive growth and expand operations to overseas markets.

Johnston Carmichael has assembled a team – including seven external advisers – to help homegrown businesses make the breakthrough into the global tech league.

The group, including seasoned entrepreneurs and business figures, will provide an existing in-house team with guidance and support on strategy and delivery, and, where appropriate, will directly connect group members with clients and contacts of the firm.

Among the high-profile recruits to the group is Polly Purvis OBE, former director of agri-tech business Intelligent Growth Solutions and former CEO of ScotlandIS. She is an active board member with roles including director of Edinburgh Science Festival and board member of Converge Challenge, which works with universities to support spin-outs.

Also enlisted is Giles Hamilton, CEO of Inverness-based life sciences business ODx Innovations, who has served as board member to more than 50 global organizations and held ministerial appoinments in the UK and Scottish Governments, as well as Alisdair Gunn. 

Alisdair, who heads up Framewire, Scotland’s leading advisory practice for tech and digital start-ups, was a founder of the Turing Festival, Europe’s top cross-functional tech conference and is currently leading the development and growth of Glasgow’s tech and digital sector as part of the Glasgow City Innovation District.

Others in the group include: 

  • Hazel McIntyre, a consultant financial director and adviser with a background in fund raising, acquisition and disposals, whose previous roles include chief financial officer at Current Health and Lomond Capital. 
  • Grant Smith, board member at The Data Lab, Scotland’s innovation centre for data and AI, and consultant to third sector organisation ONE Digital & Entrepreneurship. 
  • Les Gaw, a non-executive director and early stage adviser, who is also chairman of security business Pick Protection, and CEO of financial software firm Contigens.
  • Brendan Waters, corporate finance advisor to tech businesses including Fan Duel, one of the UK’s highest-profile tech start-ups, Dog Digital, a Glasgow-based, VC-backed digital media agency, Wilson Imports, an international supplier to the sporting equipment market and Sharktower. He is also founder of Cruachan Advisory.  

The external experts are joined by Shaun Millican, Partner and Head of Technology and Life Sciences at Johnston Carmichael, and Andrew Holloway, Corporate Tax Director and the Head of the firm’s Entrepreneurial Taxes Team. 

The appointment of the board will consolidate and boost Johnston Carmichael’s expertise in the technology sector. The firm acts for a vast range of companies in the tech sector, from start ups to international corporates and is a sponsor of several leading events, including Future X’s Start-up Summit and Scottish Edge.

It also offers in-house events, including the recent Doing Business In The USA series which hosted fireside chats with American tech entrepreneur Mark Buckley and Matthew Lanham, founder of Edinburgh-headquartered higher education platform Gecko Labs. 

The team also run regular pitch panel sessions for companies preparing for investment: a panel of experts help high growth companies strengthen their proposition, refine their pitch content and delivery, and provide founders with practical feedback.

Scotland’s digital economy, which includes software, IT, digital communications, electronics, sensors and phototonics, is worth £7.5bn[1] to Scottish GDP annually. Across the country the tech sector employs 100,000 and according to research conducted by ScotlandIS one third of firms expect to grow following the pandemic, particularly in cloud services, digital connectivity, remote working technology and digital health solutions. 

Shaun Millican said: “We’re extremely proud to introduce our first Tech Advisory Board, whose deep knowledge and experience will significantly enhance our in-house expertise and help growing business access the specialist advice they need.

“From working at home to remote schooling, technology has become a very significant part of all of our lives over the past year and its importance to recovering and growing our economy can’t be over-stated. We want to ensure businesses operating in the sector, regardless of their size, have access to the support required to help them grow and contribute to the country’s future success.”