A new digital strategy for the south of Scotland will aim to boost the sustainability, competitiveness and growth of the region. 

Launched by the economic development agency for the region – South of Scotland Enterprise – the three-year plan will seek to promote the region as a place to locate and do business.

In line with the Scottish Government’s recent National Strategy for Economic Transformation, the plan will support digitisation of key sectors driving opportunities and growth in the region.

It will also support the work of partners already underway in the south to deliver the vision of the South of Scotland Regional Economic Strategy (RES) and create a green, fair and flourishing region.   

SOSE will deliver its strategy through a series of actions under three key commitments:

  • Connectivity, Access and Skills
  • Digital Transformation and Maturity
  • Innovation and Leadership.  

Under each commitment, SOSE has identified challenges, rationale, and success metrics, all of which are all underpinned by the clear message to come and talk to SOSE no matter what stage of the journey a business, social enterprise or community group is on.  

The willingness of south of Scotland to embrace new technologies was highlighted by the latest wave of the South of Scotland Business Panel Survey, published earlier this week. 

The survey of more than 600 local businesses found 71% were already using or planning to use new technologies. Costs of introducing new technology (54%) was named the main barrier to adopting these technologies, followed closely by lack of time and lack of knowledge and skills.

Jane Morrison-Ross, chief executive of SOSE: “Our new digital strategy embraces the opportunity new technologies present us in the South.

“The strategy gives SOSE a clear plan for what we intend to do to support that and how we will do it, while also supporting all the work already underway by our partners, both regionally and nationally. 

“We recognise that it can be tough to find the finances, time and develop the skills to engage with a rapidly changing landscape, particularly in the South where the majority of our businesses are small and micro. That is where our role at SOSE is vital.

“We want to provide clarity and context, and to match digital solutions to enterprise challenges. 

“We are here to help people, communities, enterprises and businesses in the South of Scotland connect the dots, with tailored support at the right time.

“Our message to businesses, enterprises, communities is this – if you know what you want, let us help you. And if you do not know how digital can help you solve your business problems, let us guide you. 

“Digital is critical, now more than ever, and we need to ensure that the South of Scotland is part of our digital nation.” 

Professor Russel Griggs, chair of SOSE: “Digital technology has the power to unlock potential, to connect communities, to empower the workforce, to reach international customers, and to improve the delivery of key services. 

“Our new strategy reflects our huge ambitions for the south of Scotland, using digital as an enabler to unlock ways of doing business better.  

“It lays the foundation for us as SOSE to support both the Scottish Government’s NSET and the South of Scotland Regional Economic Strategy – both strategies which are closely aligned in their visions for a green, fair and flourishing economy.”