FS Fives: Monday, May 23

Welcome to the latest FS Fives – FutureScot’s lunchtime round-up of Scottish digital news.

First up, we bring you news of a new Glasgow innovation hub that aims to house 134 businesses over the next five years. The revamped Tontine Building, once the workshop of Scottish inventor James Watt, opened last week as a base for entrepreneurs and hopes to inject £53.6million into the economy of the Glasgow city region.
The Tontine will host ‘high-quality and flexible workspaces’ for companies, with a focus on those sectors which link with the city’s universities – to maximise cross-fertilisation between growing companies in the city and major multi-nationals and research programmes situated close by.  These spaces include breakout booths; networking and meeting areas; office and desk spaces.
“We will see some of the brightest and most innovative young companies in Scotland based in The Tontine,” said Councillor Frank McAveety, Leader of Glasgow City Council, who opened the building.

Second, we have leading business and financial adviser Grant Thornton calling on the Scottish Government to ‘act now’ to place the digital economy at the heart of its growth strategy.
“Experts believe the next five to ten years will be transformational for the global economy,” says Andrew Holloway, the firm’s Head of Technology and Emerging Markets in Scotland. “The world is about to witness change and disruption at a pace that we may struggle to keep up with. From tax support for innovative entrepreneurs to pioneering digital transformation projects, Holyrood must act now to ensure that Scotland can achieve its bold aim of being a truly world class digital nation.”

There has been a great deal of debate recently about the effectiveness of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of prosperity. Last month, The Economist cast a wary eye over the indicator. Now, says, Diane Coyle, professor of economics at Manchester University and a fellow of the Office for National Statistics, there is an even more powerful challenge to the way GDP is currently defined and measured because of the way digital activities are changing the economy. In an article for the OECD Observer, Coyle argues: “Statistics guide policy and allow citizens to hold politicians to account. Independent and reliable official statistics are a public good in democratic, information-based economies. The pace of change in the OECD countries is making the existing statistical framework decreasingly appropriate for measuring the economy and it is therefore hindering the development of policies for higher productivity and growth.”

Ever heard of electronic skin? No, we hadn’t either. But perhaps that’s about to change, as the demand for wearable technologies takes off. In a nutshell electronic skin represents an evolution from the very rigid circuitry of electronics (silicon-based microchips and the like) to a new form of technology integrated on soft surfaces which can bend, stretch and conform to arbitrary shapes. The development has applications in robotics (giving robots more human-like qualities, perhaps scarily!), and also for the real-time monitoring of patients with chronic diseases, by applying an e-skin layer to them. “The current silicon based electronics technology is suitable for obtaining electronics on planar and stiff surfaces only,” explains Dr Ravinder Dahiya, leader of Bendable Electronics and Sensing Technologies at the University of Glasgow. Dr Dahiya will speak about ‘Animating the Inanimate World’ at TEDxGlasgow on Friday, June 3rd.

Attention all start-ups. Webhelp, Europe’s third largest customer experience and BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) company, is offering start-ups involved in digital transformation the opportunity to showcase their ideas to some of the world’s leading companies and venture capitalists at the inaugural Viva Technology summit in Paris in June.
The summit runs from June 30-July 2 and is expected to attract more than 30,000 visitors. Webhelp will join global brands such as Orange, BNP Paribas and Accor Hotels to host co-working and demonstration laboratories with young businesses which are emerging as ones to watch in digital transformation. Webhelp is inviting start-ups to enter a challenge-based selection process which will result in 50 companies being chosen to join the outsourcer at its Customer Experience Lab.