A technology firm in Aberdeen is flying the flag for Scotland in a new programme for artificial intelligence (AI)-focused businesses.
Granite City-based LiberEat is one of 32 AI tech scaleups from across the UK and the only one from Scotland to have been accepted into Tech Nation’s third Applied AI growth programme.
It comes as two new reports on opportunities in the UK’s fast-growing technology sector show Scotland is a hotspot.
Scotland’s largest cities lead the way
Job search engine Adzuna and professional services firm Accenture both highlight Edinburgh and Glasgow as among the UK city’s leading the pace of growth in terms of employment opportunities for the sector.
It found Scottish technology start-ups and scaleups now collectively employ 135,000 people.
This is the third-highest in the UK after London and the south-east of England.
Scottish tech is booming and this thriving sector is creating exciting opportunities up and down the country.”
Digital Secreaty Nadine Dorries MP
Nearly one-third (30%) of available vacancies in Edinburgh are in the technology sector, the highest of any UK city.
Glasgow is the third most attractive city in the UK to live in when technology salaries are compared to the cost of living.
Scottish technology start-ups and scale-ups have raised £446 million in venture capital funding so far this year, a record amount for the country.
Fintech and health technology continue to be the biggest sectors for fundraising in the UK, and it’s no different in Scotland.
The biggest fundraising round in 2021 so far was for the Kirkcaldy-based fintech Paysend, which raised £90.5m in Series B funding.
Amphista Therapeutics, a biotech company based in Motherwell, also raised £38m earlier this year.
Both companies are considered to be “futurecorns” – high-growth tech companies that are expected to be worth $1 billion (£720m) or more in the next few years.
Meanwhile, research by Accenture shows demand for technology professionals in Scotland grew by 25% in the six months to July – far exceeding the pace of the 10% rise seen in the rest of the UK.
Edinburgh saw the biggest growth of all UK cities, with technology vacancies growing by more than half (51%), followed by Bristol (48%) and then Glasgow (33%).
LiberEat helps food producers deliver more accurate information on allergens, while it has also developed an app which makes it easier for people with special dietary requirements to eat out at restaurants, cook and shop.
Founded in 2016 by Barry Leaper and Louise Cahill, the company was earlier this year named among the 10 most exciting technology start-ups in the UK.
It was also a winner in the Scottish Edge competition in May, securing funding of £35,000.
Welcoming LiberEat and 31 other firms onto Tech Nation’s latest edition of the Applied AI growth initiative, programme lead Sam Beni said: “Following the turbulence of 2020, with the global pandemic, the number of Applied AI scale-ups focusing on transforming the world of healthcare is a beacon of hope for the coming years.
“The breadth of industries these AI scaleups are disrupting is testament to AI’s power to shape the world we live in.”
The UK Government-backed Applied AI programme was created to support and accelerate the UK’s highest-potential AI scale-ups.
This year’s successful companies – mostly based in London – were assessed by more than 35 judges across key industries, including government, investors and senior representatives from companies such as Microsoft, Google and PwC.
They will now enjoy six months of expert coaching and insights, as well as networking opportunities with investors, venture capitalists, corporates and peers.
The programme forms part of the government’s AI Sector Deal, announced in 2019 to realise the social and economic benefits of AI and harness its potential to transform people’s lives for the better.
Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries MP said: “Scottish tech is booming and this thriving sector is creating exciting opportunities up and down the country.”