New programme brings together leaders of ambitious digital tech businesses to plan for growth

Kevin Coll, Solab managing director

AMBITIOUS digital tech businesses in the North-east of Scotland are on track for growth, with support from Opportunity North East Digital & Entrepreneurship’s new business growth programme.

With the digital tech sector predicted to be one of the fastest growing in Scotland, 1.5 times faster than the overall economy[1], the business growth programme supports digital tech business owners and leaders to develop their growth strategy and plan for the future with confidence – looking at new markets, new product development and crucially how to build the team to deliver.

The programme developed and delivered by Opportunity North East and sponsored by partners Inoapps and Sword ITS, was launched in late 2020.  It is a critical time for established digital tech companies to accelerate their growth and recovery and refocus their business model and growth plans in the post COVID-19 environment.

Jen Scott, Opportunity North East Digital Development Manager, said: “The rate of digital acceleration over the last year has been incredible and has removed some traditional barriers to digital adoption.  This has changed the landscape and unlocked new opportunities for businesses in the sector, and the programme has helped business owners review and adapt their business to focus on growth in a fast-changing market.   

“With limited opportunities for business leaders to meet up, building this virtual community to create a strong supportive peer group of companies has been a critical success factor and a key outcome of the programme.  Business leaders share real and relevant challenges for peer input and are already identifying opportunities to work together beyond the programme. “

Solab IT Services, which has been in business in Aberdeen since 1991, is one of the area’s leading IT support and software companies. Solab has developed Onboard Tracker™ software, which now manages crewing logistics, certification and competence data on people working on over 70% of the manned rigs in the UKCS and over 50 countries.  The online hub manages personnel logistics, crew rotations, roaming teams, offshore rota planning, work, holiday & absence, and training and certification management. Onboard Tracker™ is shortlisted in the ‘Digital Innovation’ category at the 2021 Offshore Achievement Awards, which recognise innovative and effective use of digital technologies in the offshore energy sector.

Kevin Coll, Solab Managing Director, said:

“The business growth programme has come at a crucial time for many businesses across the region. The concept of encouraging growth amongst strong, established tech companies is long overdue as their success directly results in quality job creation that attracts and retains people in the region.

We are experiencing an undercurrent of change in the digital tech sector, and ONE’s action to accelerate the development of growth strategies will enable businesses to capitalise on the opportunities ahead and their position in the marketplace.

Steve Aitken, Founder of Intelligent Plant, said: “The business growth programme has allowed us to pause and focus on the next stage in our growth journey.  Doing that as part of a group has let us explore new ideas and opportunities by working together and engaging with other experienced entrepreneurs who have been through this journey.  

“As businesses in the region, we can do a lot more working together. Ongoing support from the team at ONE is making sure this happens.”  

Intelligent Plant specialises in the performance monitoring of equipment and processes through analysis and visualisation of real-time data and the management of alarm data. Since opening the world’s first Industrial App Store in January 2016, Intelligent Plant has helped clients across multiple industries own and understand their data to drive positive results, reduce emissions and increase efficiency, actively contributing net-zero targets. The company recently topped the Metis IP league table for software.

A combination of workshops, one to ones, and mentoring provides each business leader with a toolkit to develop their business model, and work on the value proposition and growth strategy and plan to take their business forward in new and existing markets and geographies. 

Opportunity North East is driving the growth of a vibrant digital economy embedded in the north east of Scotland with an established high-growth company cluster.  This is a key element of Opportunity North East’s private sector led investment with partners to diversify the north east economy, deliver sustainable business growth, create new jobs and support green economic recovery.

[1] Scottish Technology Industry Survey 2021 published by ScotlandIS

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