Former Skyscanner exec to lead Scottish tech hub plan

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Mark Logan, former Skyscanner executive and professor of computing science at the University of Glasgow, has been appointed to oversee a programme aimed at establishing Scotland as a world-class technology hub.

The programme will be backed by £7 million of Scottish government funding in its first year which will run from 2021-2022. This includes a £1 million fund to make “strategic investments” in organisations and activities such as tech conferences, meet-ups or training programmes. The government hopes this will create the best possible environment for Scottish start-ups to succeed.

There are also plans to set up a network of growth-focused entrepreneurial hubs known as “tech scalers” which will open for bids later this year. The government anticipates there will be five scalers in different parts of the country by 2022 and hopes to support around 300 start-ups over the next five years.

Progress will be supported by an advisory board made up of some of Scotland’s most successful entrepreneurs and digital leaders. This includes 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 strategic design agency; and Stephen Ingledew, executive chair of FinTech Scotland.

The Scottish 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 a 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.”

Skyscanner was Scotland’s first unicorn and Logan joined the firm as COO in 2012 until it was acquired in 2017.

He 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.”

Logan published a Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review last August and the Scottish government committed to implementing its recommendations. Recommendations include providing support for a Scottish tech meet-up network, increasing university funding to create more local software engineers and reducing inter-city rail travel costs.

Last October, the UK recorded a 16% increase in new tech startups in Q3, credited to an increase in demand for technology that supports remote working. Scotland saw the strongest growth in the number of new tech startups, with a 57% increase since Q1.

Zach Marzouk

Zach Marzouk is a former ITPro, CloudPro, and ChannelPro staff writer, covering topics like security, privacy, worker rights, and startups, primarily in the Asia Pacific and the US regions. Zach joined ITPro in 2017 where he was introduced to the world of B2B technology as a junior staff writer, before he returned to Argentina in 2018, working in communications and as a copywriter. In 2021, he made his way back to ITPro as a staff writer during the pandemic, before joining the world of freelance in 2022.