SCOTLAND is viewed as a “nation of innovators” when it comes to technology, with a major meeting of international investors and companies set to take place in Edinburgh later this year.

Russell Dalgleish, who chairs a social enterprise aimed at helping firms grow through the diaspora, said the global view was that Scotland is in a “very strong position” in fields such as artificial intelligence (AI).

At least 100 investors will come to Scotland to meet with technology companies in a three-day event taking place in Edinburgh in May.

However Dalgleish said there was a need to do more work to promote what work is happening, highlighting a debate taking place in Holyrood on Thursday as an example as this.

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The Scottish Government debate on ‘Scotland as a Technology Nation’ will include celebrating the successes of Scotland’s high-tech industries and noting “benefits that they bring in generating economic prosperity”.

Dalgleish, chairman of the Scottish Business Network, told The National: “The feedback I get is Scotland is very clearly viewed as a nation of innovators, our excellent universities, our innovation centres, the creativity coming out of Scotland across different sectors.

“Edinburgh University has been doing AI for 60 years, and particularly AI is an area where Scotland has got a global reputation.

“What we are now seeing is the realisation of this into products and services and companies.”

Dalgleish (below) said this was being achieved by support such as Techscaler, a Scottish Government programme that helps to start and scale tech businesses.

The National:

He added: “The world’s view seems to be, is that Scotland is in a very strong position."

When it comes to examples of technology development in Scotland, Dalgleish pointed to the CivTech, which issues open challenges for firms to come up with tech solutions to help the public sector and win contracts.

This was the case with Edinburgh-based firm Whereverly, which responded to a challenge to get visitors travelling between the city and Inverness to stop off at more sites on the way, he said.

Dalgleish explained: “They developed a tool which can be downloaded which allows you to share little cultural stories on the route.

“When we follow Whereverly’s career forward, they have now developed the tourism app and website for Edinburgh and they have built a really interesting AI application into that, which is using available datasets.

“Tourists can then come onto that site and simply ask questions to get shared details about what trips should they go on, what tours should they go on, how they should discover undiscovered Edinburgh.”

When it comes to the potential for Scotland, Dalgleish pointed out that technology will “underpin” society going forward.

He added: “We have a major event coming up called X3 which is going to take place in Edinburgh at the end of May, which is a three-day gathering of technologists and investors from around the world.

“What we are seeing is that investors have a growing interest in what’s happening in Scotland, we are going to being a minimum of 100 investors to Scotland for the first time ever, who are going to come and meet with these technology companies.

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“What we have to realise is if we compare Scotland with other countries, we are in a very privileged position – we have a very safe country, we have a high standard of education, we have a business and legal system which is based round about supporting innovators and entrepreneurs.

“We are in a really good position there if we can then start taking the solutions we develop and apply them to a global market.”

But he also said there was a concern that the country’s strong position in tech was not fully recognised within Scotland.

“A lot of the things you hear about in the business world are about levels of confidence,” he said.

“One thing we need to change in Scotland is we have to become more confident, more aware of what we are doing is groundbreaking globally and actually step forward and explain that.”