A key figure who helped drive the success of one of Scotland’s ‘unicorn’ rated companies has been appointed to oversee the implementation of a technology ecosystem plan he submitted to government last year.
Mark Logan, former chief operating officer of Skyscanner, will lead on a £7m plan to build a ‘world class’ digital economy based on increased levels of support for startups through a national network of ‘tech scalers’.
Logan, who is now professor of computing science at the University of Glasgow, will guide the development of the hubs, which will provide tech founders and entrepreneurs with intensive support to grow their companies to global scale.
Professor Logan, who wrote the Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review, last summer will team up with fellow unicorn founder, Lesley Eccles, who was instrumental in the success of sports betting website FanDuel.
The programme will be delivered with £7 million Scottish Government funding in its first year (2021-22). This will include a £1 million fund to make strategic investments in organisations and activities – such as tech conferences, meet-ups or training programmes – that create the best possible environment for Scottish start-ups to succeed.
Procurement for a network of growth-focused entrepreneurial hubs known as “tech scalers” will open for bids later this year. It is anticipated that there will be five scalers in different parts of the country by 2022, with the aim of supporting around 300 high-quality start-ups over the next five years.
Professor Logan said: “It’s very exciting to witness the shared sense of mission and ambition across government, industry and the education sector in bringing the tech ecosystem review’s recommendations to life. I’m pleased to have the support of such an experienced board as we strive to make Scotland a leading technology economy.”
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said: “Mark is one of the most respected figures in Scotland’s tech scene and his experience, passion and global profile will be invaluable in our joint mission to elevate the tech ecosystem to world-class level.
“The expertise and industry perspective of the advisory board will also be instrumental in ensuring we create the conditions and infrastructure needed to incubate a stream of start-ups that reach sustained profitability and can do so at scale.
“From attracting young people into computing science courses to supporting a community of high-growth businesses, this programme of work will be critical in determining the future contribution of Scotland’s tech sector to our economic recovery.”
Online travel businesses Skyscanner was Scotland’s first “unicorn” – the industry term for a tech company valued at more than $1 billion. Professor Logan joined the firm as Chief Operating Officer in 2012 until its acquisition in 2017.
Progress will be supported by a gender-balanced advisory board composed of some of Scotland’s most successful entrepreneurs and digital leaders including:
- Lesley Eccles, founder and CEO of HelloRelish and co-founder of gaming platform Fanduel
- Roan Lavery, co-founder of online accounting firm FreeAgent
- Sarah Ronald, founder of Nile HQ service design agency
- Stephen Ingledew, Executive Chair of FinTech Scotland
Karen Meechan, Interim CEO of ScotlandIS, welcomed the appointment of Professor Logan. She said: “Scotland’s tech ecosystem will be given a great boost by today’s news that Mark Logan will lead the tech scalers programme. I have no doubt that the programme will help create the conditions for incubation and growth for Scotland’s tech companies and build on the good foundations and support that already exist.”