The tech sector is a key and growing element of the Tay Cities Region – the region saw a 10.6 per cent increase in Digital/Tech employment between 2015 and 2020, among the highest-growing throughout Scotland, with more than 700 firms counted within the digital/tech sector within the region, ranging from major employers to SMEs.

Recent highlights within the region include the opening of the Abertay CyberQuarter, a £18m investment through the Tay Cities Deal. An innovation hub for the cybersecurity and digital sectors, the CyberQuarter gives ethical hacking and cybersecurity students the opportunity to co-locate with businesses, offering the students real-world experience and businesses access to new talent.

The CyberQuarter is now the home of NHS NSS’ cybersecurity team, as well as acting as the regional hub for the Scotland 5G Centre and Scottish Government’s Techscaler programme, ensuring that the centre will become a regional hub for digital/tech SMEs. Also funded through the Tay Cities Deal is the Tay5G Project. This £2m project is driving innovation in the region through 5G use cases. 

Pathfinder projects have already taken place in esports and virtual production, with a round of challenge fund projects due to launch later this summer. Underpinning this is the need for a workforce with the skills required by these fast-growing and ever-changing sectors. 

To this end, more than £4m is being invested into a digital skills project within the Deal’s broader Regional Skills & Employability Development Programme. This project will focus on delivering practical intermediate, advanced and professional digital technology skills, aimed at both digital/tech businesses and those that make use of it.

Beyond the Tay Cities Deal, this collaborative approach between the region’s four local authorities has allowed us to tackle regional challenges in digital infrastructure and the digital economy. This includes a recently completed project in collaboration with the Scottish Futures Trust to induce mobile infrastructure deployment across the region by mapping council assets for use by mobile network operators (MNOs).

In April, following the completion of the project, Perth & Kinross Council signed a comprehensive agreement with Freshwave to utilise council assets and street furniture to expand their network.

Robin Presswood is speaking today at the Digital Scotland: Tayside conference at Abertay University in Dundee.