Global electronics chip shortage a threat to Scotland’s innovation status

Dr Richard M Marshall

CENSIS Technology Summit to hear why Scotland’s economy is at particular threat from crisis

SCOTLAND’s ability to innovate could be under threat from the ongoing global electronics chip shortage, an industry expert will tell CENSIS’s seventh annual Technology Summit today.

Dr Richard M Marshall, an Edinburgh-based independent technology expert and former Gartner analyst, will outline how Scotland’s small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) dominated economy could be at risk of being squeezed out of the market for vital electronics components because of a lack of purchasing power.

He will also discuss ways of avoiding the same problem reoccurring in the future, looking at the potential for creating a co-operative for Scottish SME manufacturers and technology companies that rely on access to chips for their work.

Dr Richard M Marshall said: “Over 99% of Scottish companies are SMEs and this puts them all at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to buying in international markets, in which there is a shortage of the products they need. We have recently seen cases of large US tech companies buying an entire year’s worth of servers, for instance, and small companies simply don’t have the money to compete. If our SMEs can’t access the products and components they need to build products and deliver services, then that calls into question whether Scotland as a nation can do those things as well.

“There are several options in front of us, including creating a co-operative for Scottish manufacturers and tech companies to give them more purchasing power on the international stage. Another, longer-term option could be bringing more chip fabrication back to the UK or looking at more geographical diversification for globally important supply chains.

“Whatever the answer is, we need to start looking at alternatives rather than relying on the market structures in place prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s a matter of national resilience, ensuring Scottish businesses have access to the key building blocks and components they require, ultimately making sure they and our economy are not left behind.”

CENSIS – Scotland’s innovation centre for sensing, imaging, and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies – hosts its annual Technology Summit today at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, bringing together hundreds of delegates from across Scotland, the UK, and further afield.

Alongside Richard Marshall, attendees will hear from keynote speaker Andy Stanford-Clark, IBM’s distinguished engineer for IoT and master inventor; South of Scotland Enterprise’s head of natural capital, Jayne Ashley; and Allan Cannon, CEO and founder of Scottish satellite start-up Krucial (previously R3-IoT).

Paul Winstanley, CEO of CENSIS, said: “Many of the companies we work with have told us about how difficult they are finding it in the current environment to get their hands on the semiconductors and other components that are the lifeblood of what they do.

“We need to start exploring the options in front of us to create new supply chains that ensure continual access to what they need, even in exceptional circumstances like the period we have just been through. The formation of a cooperative would be a great starting point, and it is something we previously explored with Technology Scotland during the heights of the pandemic. 

“The CENSIS Technology Summit is the perfect forum for beginning further discussion, bringing together experts from across the country and further afield to address the challenge in front of us. I look forward to seeing what ideas developed on the day will be taken forward by the businesses, public sector services, and academic institutions present today.”

For more information about the Technology Summit and to register, please visit the CENSIS website: 

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