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Scotland’s tech firms bounce back from Covid slump amid reports of sales growth

More than half of tech firms in Scotland have reported growth (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
More than half of tech firms in Scotland have reported growth (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Scotland’s tech sector bounced back last year from the lows of the pandemic, new research has found, with sales growth returning to pre-Covid rates.

In the annual Scottish Technology Industry Survey for ScotlandIS, it found 72% of companies reporting increasing sales in 2021 after a significant drop the year before, which saw just 44% of firms seeing rising sales.

Karen Meechan, chief executive of ScotlandIS, said: “Data gathered from this year’s survey gives clear signals that the tech sector is back in growth mode after weathering the initial impacts of the pandemic.”

Tech firms said they are expected to reap rewards from growth in data analytics, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.

The largest source of future growth, according to tech firms north of the border, is cyber security where a third of companies saw it as an opportunity in the year to come.

But one of the barriers to growth is with difficulties getting staff, ScotlandIS said, explaining that talent continued to be in high demand across the industry and would be one of the top barriers to growth this year.

And while the sector is reporting growth, exports are in decline with a 4% fall last year and one in five Scottish tech businesses have no plans to export at all this year.

Of the businesses planning to sell outside Scotland, 77% said they would be doing business with the rest of the UK, 68% exporting to Europe and 60% to North America.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said: “We want to establish Scotland as one of Europe’s leading start-up economies – that is why the Scottish Government is committed to the most radical reforms of the Scottish entrepreneurial system since devolution.

“A key ambition in our strategy to transform the economy is to establish Scotland as a world-class entrepreneurial country, founded on a culture that encourages, promotes and celebrates entrepreneurial activity.”

Ms Meechan added: “As it comes to the end of the academic year for many Scottish students, we are pleased to see how many organisations across the sector are planning to recruit graduates, but the year ahead will require continued collaboration across industry, academia and our education system to build a pipeline of talent within Scotland.

“We’ll continue to do as much as we can to support that.”

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