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Investing in Scottish Digital with Kate Forbes: what we discussed

26 Mar 2019

Posted by Anna Doyle

It was an early start for digital leaders representing SMEs across the Scottish central belt who gathered at the Corinthian in Glasgow for a breakfast session led by Kate Forbes, Scotland’s Minister for the Digital Economy and Public Finance. The breakfast included a practical panel session exploring different avenues to investment in SME digital businesses.

Kate opened by acknowledging how critically important the creative digital sector is to the Scottish economy and is keen to ensure the Government understands the best way to support this community. One aspect of the breakfast was to ensure various access routes to finance for the SME sector were signposted.

Kate noted that the public description of BIMA members “Connectors. Thought leaders. Champions. Change makers” hit a cord with her as those are the attributes required to drive growth and innovation in Scotland. But she was keen to emphasise we also need a collaborative spirit to support one another to succeed. This is, in fact, at the heart of much of what the BIMA community does.

The digital sector has a key role to play in asserting Scotland’s reputation as a nation of innovators, showcasing typical Scottish characteristics:

- Authenticity

- Inventiveness

- Artisan

- Technical skills

- And the “hard to bottle” we can do this attitude

The BIMA community is essential to Scottish economic success not only as the majority of this community fall into the SME category “the life blood of Scotland” but because the digital products and skills created are crucial to improve productivity.

The Government’s focus on talent is from schools up with the aim of ensuring our children are digital creators, not just consumers, and projects such as CodeClan are addressing the skills gap in the work place. Of course, the BIMA community is doing its bit through numerous independent projects that don’t even get on the radar and also huge collaborations such as BIMA Digital Day when digital practitioners parachute into schools, and the brand new, totally bespoke Inspiring Digital Leaders programme.

Kate was keen to emphasise that the Scottish industrious and innovative heritage continues today. We must be sure to spotlight this as it is key to unlocking the challenges we face today and ensuring Scotland continues to have a strong and growing position on the international stage.

The presentation concluded by Kate noting we have the aptitude to find solutions to problems before others have identified the problem exists. With Brexit continuing to create the risk of uncertainty, Government and business must work together to seize positive economic outcomes.

Kate’s presentation was followed by a short panel session exploring financing opportunities for SME digital businesses, each explained the opportunities and access routes to finance but all emphasised the importance of independent advice to ensure you take the right route for your business:

Pat McHugh of Scottish Growth Scheme – addressing market failure to finance SME’s.

Some useful links to explore:

Microfinance: lending < £25,000 - DSL Business Finance Ltd

Debt: lending in the range £25,000 - £100,000 - Business Loans Scotland; BE Group Debt Finance Scotland

Equity: investment < £2m within a £10m deal ceiling: Techstart Ventures; Foresight

Gary Torbett of Scottish Enterprise – aim to grow private sector funding for early stage & expanding SMEs

Focused on: Innovation; Internationalisation; Investment; Inclusive Growth.

The fund is to complement, not compete with banks. Funds and programmes are:

Scottish Co-Investment Fund IV; Scottish Venture Fund IV; Energy Investment Fund;

Kate McKay of Galvanise – exploring angel investment opportunities

Useful links to explore: GalvaniseLINC ScotlandUK Business Angels Association

Ronnie Smith of Digital Development Loan - Scottish Government initiative to improve Scotland’s digital capacity, capability and skills

Find out more: Digital Development Loan; @DigitalDevLoan

A huge thank you to Kate, our panel of financial experts and the room full of leading professionals representing the Scottish Digital SME community.

Anna Doyle
Posted by Anna Doyle

A member of the BIMA Team since 2012, Anna‘s time is focused on the day-to-day operations of BIMA, building BIMA communities across regions and disciplines and, best of all, spending time with BIMA members to learn more about their business challenges and aspirations. Based in Glasgow, Anna is also responsible for delivering member services and support for BIMA Scotland. Everyday offers a new insight. Previous experience includes 4 years in the BBC Arabic Service newsroom, heading up a pan-BBC World Service change management programme, and working in a diverse range of industries from financial derivatives trading, petroleum engineering and spring manufacturing.

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