Kate Forbes has said the office of the chief entrepreneur for Scotland should be a ‘long-term endeavour’ with the contract for the role due to expire in September.

The deputy first minister was quizzed by MSPs yesterday on a range of economic measures relating to the National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET).

At the Holyrood economy and fair work committee, she said that the chief entrepreneur – former Skyscanner executive Mark Logan – is a ‘critical part’ of the Scottish Government’s policy implementation plans following his Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review (STER).

She said: “From my perspective, short term objectives are: is the chief entrepreneur and are the policies actually happening? So, in terms of the policies, are they happening, have they been implemented? They have; it’s one of the most successful parts of the NSET programme – the Techscaler programme is up and running. The businesses are there, the businesses are pioneering – they’re being innovative, they’re doing really exciting things.

“And the chief entrepreneur is a critical part of that. Because it’s not just about creating space, it’s about creating the relationships. The other part to this is that the chief entrepreneur, the value of him being in a government role is that he can work across different portfolios.”

She said an important meeting had taken place last week with the health secretary and lots of different tech companies in the health space focused on harnessing AI, wearable devices and new innovations to reduce health inequalities. She said that Logan’s role was a critical part of that, in terms of being able to speak to both the economy and health spaces.

However Bob Doris MSP pressed Forbes – the cabinet secretary for the economy – on the matter of the chief entrepreneur role itself, a two-year term due to expire on September 9.

She said: “My view is that it should be a long-term endeavour. I think that if you start playing around with the process that’s working, with a structure that’s working, you jeopardise that [sic] medium to long term aims and objectives.”

Earlier in the session, Forbes had said that for Scotland to have a successful tech economy, it required investment and the infrastructure to support it.

In that sense, the government’s flagship £42 million Techscaler programme as well as the pre-start-up pathways launched last year were key to that.

She said: “If you ultimately want more unicorns, you know, if you want to be seen as the place to locate as a tech startup, then you massively need to increase the pipeline of business, and the number of businesses that are starting because not all of them will be successful. We don’t actually want all of them to be successful, because what is symptomatic of successful countries and economies in this regard, is that there is a high tolerance of risk. So a lot of that has gone into creating the structure.”

She credited Techscaler – which delivers that infrastructure support as well as education and mentoring – as being the first of its kind in Europe but in terms of evaluating its success, the timescales would be long term.

She said: “But the ultimate test of success will be in 10 years’ time, because in 10 years’ time, and if the one of the occupants of my job – because it won’t be me – if one of them are, you know, are celebrating and commending how the success of the Scottish technology industry, and the entrepreneurship that goes on in Scotland, it will be a success.”

Forbes also indicated that one of the reasons tech companies are increasingly looking to locate themselves in Scotland is because of the skills pipeline. On a recent visit to the National Robotarium at Heriot-Watt university, she said she had spoken to overseas founders who had all said that this was the principal reason they’d decided to scale their businesses in Scotland.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Deputy First Minister has been clear that the role of Chief Entrepreneur is critical to our National Strategy for Economic Transformation.

“Mark Logan has made an exceptional impact and continues to do so. As with all Ministerial appointments, there is a process to be followed in appointing the Chief Entrepreneur and we will make an announcement in due course.”