A group of Aberdeen-based technology companies are nearing completion of a programme designed to boost the growth potential of the region’s digital economy.
Eight companies make up the first cohort of Opportunity North East’s (One) Digital & Entrepreneurship business growth programme.
The digital tech sector has been identified to be one of the fastest growing in Scotland. Trade body ScotlandIS has predicted it will expand 1.5 times faster than the overall economy, and the One cohort is also looking to outpace other sectors.
The project does not come with investment. Instead it enables business owners and leaders to look at new markets, product development and how to build teams to deliver growth ambitions.
Nor does the programme focus on start-ups, which tend to dominate investment and business support activity. Instead, it includes the likes of Solab IT Services, which has been in business in Aberdeen since 1991.
Working with oil and gas operators and tier one suppliers, Solab has developed Onboard Tracker, a software platform which manages crewing logistics, certification and competence data on people working on over 70% of the manned rigs in the UKCS and in over 50 countries. The online hub manages personnel logistics, crew rotations, offshore rota planning, work, holiday & absence, and training and certification management.
Kevin Coll, Solab managing director, said: “The business growth programme has come at a crucial time for many businesses across the region. The concept of encouraging growth amongst strong, established tech companies is long overdue as their success directly results in quality job creation that attracts and retains people in the region.
“We are experiencing an undercurrent of change in the digital tech sector, and One’s action to accelerate the development of growth strategies will enable businesses to capitalise on the opportunities ahead and their position in the marketplace.”
Onboard Tracker is shortlisted in the ‘Digital Innovation’ category at the 2021 Offshore Achievement Awards, which have been postponed until March 2022.
Steve Aitken, founder of Intelligent Plant, is another member of the cohort. His company specialises in performance monitoring to reduce carbon emissions and increase efficiency. Recently the company signed a deal to install its monitoring system on the Orbital O2 tidal turbine being commissioned at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in the Orkneys. The company recently topped the Metis IP league table for software.
Mr Aitken’s ambition is for the company’s software to be used in every household to monitor energy efficiency.
He said: “The business growth programme has allowed us to pause and focus on the next stage in our growth journey. Doing that as part of a group has let us explore new ideas and opportunities by working together and engaging with other experienced entrepreneurs who have been through this journey.”
One launched the programme last year and expects the second cohort to start in Autumn.
Jen Scott, One’s digital development manager, said: “The rate of digital acceleration over the last year has been incredible and has removed some traditional barriers to digital adoption. This has changed the landscape and unlocked new opportunities for businesses in the sector, and the programme has helped business owners review and adapt their business to focus on growth in a fast-changing market.
“With limited opportunities for business leaders to meet up, building this virtual community to create a strong supportive peer group of companies has been a critical success factor and a key outcome of the programme. Business leaders share real and relevant challenges for peer input and are already identifying opportunities to work together beyond the programme. “