Startups

DIGIT Movers and Shakers | July 2022 – DIGIT.FYI


Recruitment

Mark Logan

Scotland Chief Entrepreneur

Scotland has officially appointed its first ‘Chief Entrepreneur’, with former Skyscanner executive Mark Logan selected for the role.

The new position has been created specifically to ensure entrepreneurship is “embedded in the economy” and to drive closer collaboration between government and Scotland’s high-growth industries.

Logan is expected to hold the new position for an initial term of two years, and will act as an advisor to the Start-up Nation Programme; established to deliver key recommendations from the Scottish Tech Ecosystem Review which he authored.

He will also support the work of the forthcoming Stewart Review of Women in Enterprise.

Commenting on the appointment, Logan said: “I am looking forward to building upon my existing role with the Scottish Government, working in partnership with our business community to boost entrepreneurialism across the economy.

“There are so many innovative, creative enterprises across Scotland, and part of the task ahead is to provide the best possible environment in which they can thrive.”

Logan’s remit will include boosting engagement with the Scottish startup community, working closely with founders, entrepreneurship programmes and small businesses to ensure that future policy development is focused on meeting business needs.

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Cyacomb

Movers and shakers

Cyacomb is further strengthening its team with the addition of Chris Noble in the new role of VP Product and Design.

Noble joins the firm from Facebook where he led product initiatives across Facebook, Messenger, and Meta VR.

Noble has been key in driving product growth at scale. He is a 15-year high-impact B2B and Software as a Service (SaaS) veteran and consumer product leader.

Noble commented: “I’m passionate about the integrity of people’s experiences online, and when using technical products. I’m looking forward to driving greater communication and research with our customers, working with law enforcement to catch perpetrators of illegal imagery, and social media and messaging apps to block and prevent harmful content.”

Ian Stevenson, Cyacomb CEO, said: “We’re delighted to appoint Chris to lead the evolution of Cyacomb’s global product strategy. Chris brings direct experience of working in the markets we seek to serve. I’m looking forward to Chris’ input in developing our strategic thinking and building our product team to support our vision of a world where no harmful digital content can be hidden or shared.”


Amplifi Solutions

Movers and shakers

Amplifi Solutions has added to its client base in Scotland, with digital transformation specialist ClearSky Logic, mobile ticketing and sports fan experience startup Fanbase, and Candle Shack, Europe’s leading candle-making supplier, among business wins in 2022.

The firm has also strengthened its executive advisory team with two key appointments: Patricia Harvey and Andrew Blackstock. Patricia Harvey, who brings over two decades of senior tax experience including senior roles at BDO and Baker Tilly, specialises in tax incentives, including the R&D Tax Credit scheme.

Andrew Blackstock, a construction industry expert with a background in engineering research, will lead the technical writing team and joins from ABGI.

Jamie Watts, Commercial Director, Amplifi Solutions, said: “It is an interesting time for our client portfolio, which includes multiple knowledge intensive companies who are enhancing their valuations by carrying out high level R&D.”

He added: “Both appointments enable us to further grow our entrepreneurial tax offering, and service a wider range of innovative companies.”


Partnerships

University of Dundee and Bio-Techne

undruggable diseases

The University of Dundee and Bio-Techne will partner to commercialise technology to help combat undruggable diseases.

Bio-Techne has signed the exclusive licensing agreement to commercialise Dundee’s BromoTAG system and fund the recruitment of postdoctoral researchers at the university’s Centre for Targeted Protein Degradation (CeTPD).

Working alongside leading global TPD scientists, researchers at the CeTPD will create new chemical tools that will be made available by Tocris, a Bio-Techne brand, for use by the biomedical research community.

CeTPD Director, Professor Alessio Ciulli, who is a pioneer in protein degraders research, said: “We are delighted to announce the successful commercialisation of a recent discovery in the Centre for Targeted Protein Degradation, and for continued collaborative work between Dundee and Tocris. We will jointly work to develop the next-generation BromoTAG for a variety of applications.

“The licensing deal deepens the relationship between the university and Bio-Techne, while the postdoctoral project at Dundee is the first of its kind that the company has invested in. These developments cement the importance of our research to the field of targeted protein degradation.”

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Heriot-Watt University and InnoScot Health

InnoScot-Heriot-Watt Partnership

A new partnership between Heriot-Watt University and InnoScot Health has been forged to fast-track innovation in medical and healthcare technologies in Scotland.

The five-year agreement will see Heriot-Watt University’s Medical Device Manufacturing Centre (MDMC) work with InnoScot Health to bring new ideas and innovations from healthcare professionals to life.

The strategic relationship will initially focus on identifying new healthcare technologies and the development of prototype medical devices by engaging with clinicians, doctors, nurses, and engineering students.

In addition to the new partnership’s research and development ambitions, both organisations will work to develop joint Continual Professional Development (CPD) and training programmes that further develop staff from both organisations in regulatory issues relating to medical devices.

Graham Watson, Executive Chair of InnoScot Health, said: “This mutually beneficial agreement builds on our successful long-standing relationship with Heriot-Watt University and pools our significant collective expertise. It is a landmark moment that will serve to accelerate medical and healthcare opportunities in the first instance with vast possibilities thereafter.

“We are in no doubt that Heriot-Watt’s considerable enterprise credentials and status as a leading innovation and research institution can match our own ambitions whilst helping to underpin our own development aims in the sector.

“We believe it will be a very successful working arrangement for both parties – from the co-creation of novel medical devices with clinicians, doctors, nurses, and engineering students, to working with Heriot-Watt University to develop joint Continuous Professional Development and training programmes to further develop staff from both organisations.”

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Smart Things Accelerator Centre and Scottish Enterprise

STAC Scottish Enterprise

The Smart Things Accelerator Centre (STAC) is scaling up having secured a strategic partnership with Scottish Enterprise that will deliver additional services and support to Scotland’s first Internet of Things (IoT) accelerator programme.

Additionally, 13 new companies are joining STAC. These are: My Perro/Eslington; Attis Fitness; Danu Robotics; Bilis/Electro-Peds; Everyware; FC Labs; MX3CS; Neurobright; Osbot; QIoT; TechQore; Nooku, and Airspection.

Smart Things Accelerator Centre (STAC) CEO Paul Wilson said: “Scaling tech companies ready for international success needs harmonised company building, market traction, and capital investment, and this is what we will be striving to deliver through our partnership with Scottish Enterprise.

“The new strategic partnership is a testament to how much we have achieved to date, and it means we can combine forces to effectively scale our supported companies. Through a combination of strategic partnerships, new revenue streams and increased sponsorship from UK and international corporate partners, we are now in a position to further scale STAC in the months and years ahead.”

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CodeClan and Psychology Scotland

CodeClan and Psychology Scotland

Digital skills academy CodeClan and mental health centre Psychology Scotland have partnered to provide life skills in managing transitions, imposter syndrome, positive networking skills and how to embrace mental health tools.

The new partnership will prove beneficial for all students as making the decision to change careers can come with its challenges, as can engaging in a new learning environment.

The webinars and supporting documentation that Psychology Scotland provides a look at how topics such as imposter syndrome are something that everyone faces, how to recognise them and how practices can limit the impact, in turn, creating a more positive mental state.

“Change is always hard, add new vocabulary, complex concepts, new peers and a new job – it all can feel overwhelming, so at CodeClan we want to support the person, not just their time at CodeClan, and by teaming with Psychology Scotland to provide lifelong skills in positive mental health is imperative to our mission for Scotland,” Melinda Matthews-Clarkson, CodeClan’s CEO, explained.

She added: “Just focusing on the skill of programming or data analytics is short sighted and it is what most of our competition does, we want to provide our clients with the skills but also on how to be a strong person in a new industry.

“Working in tech requires a healthy routine that works for the individual, a foundation of self-care, the ability to focus and maintain good energy levels.”

Fraser Smith, founder of Psychology Scotland, says: “We are very excited to be working with CodeClan and their students. Psychology Scotland is all about helping people with their mental and emotional wellbeing. Having a partnership with CodeClan means we can provide an extra layer of support for all students as they embark on their studies.”

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The Scotland 5G Centre and Vodafone

Scotland mobile private network

The Scotland 5G Centre and Vodafone have delivered two new 5G Mobile Private Networks (MPNs) to develop new use cases and accelerate the adoption of the technology across industry in Scotland.

The 5G MPNs are in The Scotland 5G Centre’s Aberdeen and HALO Kilmarnock innovation hubs. The hubs will help organisations to deliver new applications and services using Vodafone 5G connectivity.

Specialist staff will also be on hand to help companies develop, prototype and test real-world, 5G-powered applications and use cases.

The partnership aims to spur growth in the regions and build functionality that goes beyond the ‘proof of concept’ stage.

Lara Moloney, Head of the S5GConnect Programme at The Scotland 5G Centre commented: “We are extremely excited to work with Vodafone at these two additional locations as part of our network of Innovation hubs across Scotland.

“Working together to provide 5G access, market education and insight for digital infrastructure and its potential ROI for industry offers a competitive advantage to organisations that utilise these unique and high-quality services.

“We are looking forward to supporting ambitious businesses on their 5G journey as we continue to evolve the 5G ecosystem for the benefit of Scottish citizens and the economy.”

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Talend and SGN

SGN Talend Partnership

Data integration and management company Talend has partnered with SGN to drive its cross-organisational data initiatives.

The energy company will use Talend to drive a strong data culture throughout its business and power its data transformation and digitalisation plans to support the UK government’s net zero decarbonisation objective.

Running in an AWS environment, Talend will help SGN operationalise its data governance strategy, supporting regulatory requirements and greater access, understanding, and usage of its data across the organisation.

Shuchi Nagar, Head of Architecture and Data at SGN said: “Data will play a key role in the innovation that will drive the future of energy and the future of energy sources.

“We have a number of innovative projects to identify how we are going to use hydrogen on our networks, how we prioritise our network upgrades so that it supports the Net Zero hydrogen targets, and how we optimise our programme, so it is the most efficient for the future of gas and gas networks.”

Gabrielle Barnard, Head of Information Management at SGN, added: “One of the benefits that the Talend platform provides us with is the opportunity to change the perception of data as a conceptual asset that people can’t see or touch necessarily, particularly when we are talking in the context of governing and managing our data to deliver value.”

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Cancer Research Horizons and Edinburgh University

Venture Builder Incubator

Cancer Research Horizons is renewing its partnership with the University of Edinburgh’s Venture Builder Incubator.

The organisation, through its Entrepreneurial Programmes, will sponsor ten places for cancer-related research projects from across the UK to take part on the 16-week programme to drive academic entrepreneurship by supporting PhD students and early career researchers to develop their business ideas, build their skills and secure funding.

It is being delivered by the Bayes Centre, the University of Edinburgh’s innovation hub for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, on behalf of the university’s five Data-Driven Innovation Hubs and Edinburgh Innovations.

The incubator will begin later this year and build on the success of the previous cohorts, which have attracted £1.8 million in funding in the last 12 months.

Laura Bernal, Venture Builder Incubator Programme Manager at Edinburgh University, commented: “We are delighted to be partnering with Cancer Research Horizons again this year.

“Our Incubator programme is designed to help fledgling entrepreneurs across all sectors of business build their skills and take their businesses to the next level and through continuing to build our relationship with the brilliant team at Cancer Research Horizons, we can ensure that we are supporting the commercialisation of vital research across 10 cancer-related projects this year.”

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Moves

Blis

Blis Scotland

London-based global programmatic advertising company Blis is setting up an R&D centre in Scotland after receiving £1.4 million in grant support from Scottish Enterprise.

The company is initially investing in 14 high value research and development roles to support the business in continually evolving its technology, with nine roles already hired.

Bils company operates in more than 40 offices across five continents.

Greg Isbister, CEO at Blis, commented: “During the past years, we have made significant investments in our technology to build our integrated planning and buying platform without relying on personal data.”

He added: “The major investment we received from Scottish Enterprise will help us speed up delivery of our commitment to investing in our team and technology to drive growth.

“Scotland is my home country and I’m incredibly excited to support Scottish Enterprise as we aim to hire some of the most talented technology professionals and help the sector grow even further.”

Mark Hallan, director of global investment at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Digital technology is going to be critical to our economic growth over the next decade.

“Scotland is increasingly renowned internationally as a digital tech leader due to its vibrant startup scene and world-class universities. The arrival of an innovative company such as Blis to Scotland will further enhance this sector and create high-valued, tech-related job opportunities for our workforce.”

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Endpoint Automation Services

EAS Scotland

Endpoint Automation Services (EAS) has announced that it will open a new office in Scotland.

The new office will be in Glasgow, at Tay House on Bath Street, helping the company to bolster its UK operations and drive its ambitious growth plans.

For EAS, based in Oswestry in Shropshire, the move is based on growing business opportunities the company sees in Scotland.

EAS Commercial Director Russell Lawrie said: “Opening a base in Glasgow is an exciting move for us and helps continue our strong growth and major success we have had since establishing EAS in 2015.

“The new location enables us to seek and develop the growing opportunities we have in Scotland and puts the fundamental foundations in place to firmly cement our ambitious expansion strategy.

“With a strong track record in the financial services sector in supporting the move towards automation, we are particularly excited to take a space within the financial hub of Glasgow.”

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AMTE Power

AMTE Power MegaFactory

Battery cell manufacturer AMTE Power has selected Dundee as the preferred site for its first Megafactory.

The new site at Dundee’s Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc (MSIP) would ensure the business can rapidly scale up to mass manufacturing volumes.

The Megafactory will complement AMTE Power’s existing facility in Thurso, Caithness, enabling the company to respond to high levels of interest in its cells from customers in the automotive and energy storage markets and get them to market quicker.

AMTE Power’s new factory will create up to 215 high skilled on-site jobs and 800 more across the supply chain through the production of battery cells needed to help electrify vehicles, homes, and industries for the UK’s energy transition.

Commenting on the investment, Kevin Brundish, CEO, AMTE Power, said: “We are excited to announce Dundee as the preferred location for our first Megafactory, a quantum leap for AMTE. The change in our execution strategy will accelerate our journey to mass manufacture of high value added, differentiated cells.

“The Megafactory will be a platform from which AMTE can harness our advanced in-house capabilities to build further factories to meet the huge demand for battery cells – allowing us to rapidly scale up production and fast-track the path to achieving net zero.

“Battery cells are fundamental to enabling the UK’s energy transition and with this investment, we will play a key role in electrifying the vehicles, homes and industries of the future. The site at Dundee is the ideal location for a Megafactory, it has the local industry knowledge and is close to our current and future customers in energy storage. We look forward to updating all stakeholders on our progress.”

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Skyrora

Skyrora rocket engine manufacturing

Rocket firm Skyrora is opening a new manufacturing and production facility, the largest of its kind in the UK.

After recently opening its engine test facility in Midlothian, this new facility in Cumbernauld allows the company to concentrate its launch development practices in custom-built domestic facilities.

Production of two Skyrora vehicles has already commenced at the Cumbernauld site, which will increase to up to 16 per year once mass production begins.

The Skyrora Vehicle Assembly Building in Cumbernauld consists of 55,000 sq ft of factory floor and office space, along with a 67,000 sq ft yard large enough to contain the entire Skylark L launch complex and future Skyrora XL launch facilities, for rehearsals, integration works, and launch preparation.

The manufacturing and production site will generate new employment opportunities both in the North Lanarkshire area and in the rest of Scotland, boosting local economic prospects by accommodating up to 100 high-skilled technical and business roles.

Skyrora’s Head of Engineering, Dr Jack James Marlow, said: “This purpose-built manufacturing and assembly site, combined with the Midlothian testing facility, allows Skyrora to take direct charge of the development cycle in-house. As a business, we now have a full set of domestic facilities to allow for close control of the quality and rapid development and testing of Skyrora XL ahead of its demo launch.

“The site will also allow us to further optimise manufacturing processes developed by our colleagues in Ukraine and scale-up launch vehicle production in the long term, enabling further expansion and growth in the future.”

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Raytheon UK

Advanced Laser Integration Centre

Livingston will soon be home to a European Advanced Laser Integration Centre to meet demand for counter-drone technology.

Defence company Raytheon UK has announced the site which is set to open next year. The aim of the facility is to help meet growing demand for drone-destroying laser weapons.

The centre will focus on the testing, fielding, and maintenance of defensive high-energy laser (HEL) weapons, something which the firm said has become more pressing as the Ukraine war rages.

John Gallagher, managing director of weapons and sensors at Raytheon UK, said: “With experts projecting that high-energy lasers could make up as much as 30% of an air defence’s infrastructure in the future, establishing a regional laser integration centre in the UK is an important step to deliver advanced defensive technology where it’s needed, while reducing overall costs of these systems.”

He added: “This centre will help position the UK as a leading nation in directed energy and ensure that the technology continues to be brought out of the lab and into the operational field.”

Raytheon UK, part of Raytheon Technologies, supports 1,900 jobs across Scotland and provides a £187 million contribution to the Scottish economy.

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Awards

GU Orbit team

Glasgow satellite competition

A team of students from the University of Glasgow (UofG) will see a satellite they designed sent into space after winning a £600,000 national competition.

The GU Orbit team won the LaunchUK Nanosat Design Competition at an awards event held at Farnborough International Airshow on Friday the 22nd of July.

The UofG students beat 40 UK teams, with the judges praising their entry for identifying a clear way to tackle climate change and test new technologies. The team spent months of intensive work on design and planning, with feedback provided by experts from the UK Space Agency.

Their design for a satellite capable of monitoring climate change from space will now be built and could be launched from a UK spaceport as soon as next year.

Joe Gibbs, one of the student leads of the OirthirSAT team, commented: “The whole team are delighted to have been selected as winners of the competition and to move one step closer to launching the OirthirSAT platform.

“The competition has highlighted the existing capability of student teams to design nanosatellites and we hope as a team to showcase what the UK space sector has to offer. Following this result, we move onto the detailed design phase and will begin refining the design of our nanosat ready for the critical design review (CDR) later this year.

“OirthirSAT will generate important data on the UK coastline that will be invaluable to shaping UK policy on climate change, and I look forward to being a part of the student team developing the platform.”

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Barracuda Networks

Movers and shakers

Barracuda Networks has been recognised as one of the top 100 large companies with the best leadership teams including the CEO, executives, and direct managers.

The firm ranked 66 for this quarter’s Best Leadership Teams award, which is based on how employees rate and approve of the job their worldwide leadership team is doing.

Comparably Awards are derived from 15 million sentiment ratings anonymously provided by current employees across 70,000 companies about their workplaces in multiple categories on Comparably.com during a 12-month period.

Winners are then determined based on 16 core workplace metrics, ranging from work-life balance and leadership to compensation and career growth.

Hatem Naguib, CEO at Barracuda, said: “At Barracuda, our leaders know their success only comes through making their teams effective, energised, and successful in meeting our customers’ needs, and in developing and growing employees’ individual careers.

“We’re honoured to receive the Best Leadership Teams award — based on our employee feedback — recognising the great culture we’ve built at Barracuda and what we achieve when we focus on succeeding together.”


xDesign

xDesign revenue record

Edinburgh based digital development company xDesign has reported record revenue of £14.5 million for 2022.

The latest figures are up by £3.8m compared to the 2021 financial year and marks the fourth consecutive year of substantial growth for the company.

In addition to the record revenue, xDesign also said that it is on track to expand its workforce to 550 people in the next year, while looking to grow its revenue to £40 million in the same period.

Founder and CEO Euan Andrews said: “Our latest financial results are testament to the hard work and dedication of our people. At a time of great uncertainty – one that’s seen many UK companies look for answers to their talent demands – we’ve been able to satisfy a growing need in the market by providing high-quality, highly-motivated, and locally-based technologists.

“We’re not a company that simply wants to put ‘bums on seats’. We’re one that looks to enter into a two-way partnership with clients, to add real tangible value to their company whilst setting them up for success in the long term – particularly when it comes to digital skills and capability.”

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Novosound and Integrated Graphene

KPMG's Tech Innovator in the UK

Two Scottish firms have been shortlisted to pitch to industry experts as part of KPMG’s global Tech Innovator in the UK final.

Ultrasound imaging firm Novosound was crowned the winner of KPMG UK’s Emerging Giants Tech Innovator Scottish heat in Glasgow in June, while Stirling-based Integrated Graphene, which produces 3D graphene foams for industrial and commercial use, was named runner up.

Both firms were selected from almost 250 UK businesses after pitching to a panel of industry experts. They will now compete against other regional finalists up at the Nexus Innovation Centre in Leeds on July 21st.

Dave Hughes, CEO and co-founder of Novosound, said: “I’m incredibly proud we’re through to the UK final. We know our technology has the power to revolutionise ultrasound imaging in hospitals around the world and make a powerful impact on people’s lives.

“Our story clearly resonated with the judges, and I’m excited to pitch for a place in the global final in Lisbon later this year.”

Claus Marquordt, Co-founder and CEO of Integrated Graphene said: “We’re excited to progress to the next round of KPMG’s competition and pitch alongside other UK innovators.

“The properties of the new graphene material we engineered, Gii(R), and the lean 6-sigma process we invented enable significantly better products at less cost.

“Only 18 years after graphene’s discovery, this finally marks a turning point and the commercial breakthrough into a plethora of markets and applications globally.”

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Scottish EDGE

Scottish EDGE

The Scottish EDGE Awards are open for submissions again for what will be its 20th round of funding in the last eight years.

Expanding on last year’s awards, which saw 40 early-stage businesses receive a total of £1.65 million, the 20th round will include an additional prize for a top award winner in the main Scottish EDGE category of a day with Sir Tom Hunter’s investment arm, West Coast Capital, including lunch with Sir Tom courtesy of The Hunter Foundation.

In a further boost to new entrants, two award categories will see a rise in the funding amount awarded to winners. The Young EDGE category, which recognises entrepreneurs aged 30 and under, and the Wild Card EDGE category, which caters for pre-trading companies, sole-traders and partnerships, will each see an increase in the top prize award from £15,000 to £20,000.

As a result of further investment from Scottish Enterprise, the number of winners in the Young EDGE Category will again double to 14.

Evelyn McDonald, CEO of Scottish EDGE, said: “Over the past eight years, Scottish EDGE has celebrated the innovation and dedication of over 500 businesses, and we are thrilled to continue supporting entrepreneurship through our 20th round of awards.

“We always like to offer something extra if we can and we hope the increase to our top prize in the Young EDGE and Wild Card EDGE categories, the change to the loan to grant ratio for our social enterprise entrants and the opportunity to chat over lunch with one of our biggest supporters, Sir Tom Hunter, will appeal to what we’re sure will be an exciting group of entrants to Round 20.”

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Lead Scotland

Digital CLD Award

Lead Scotland has become one of the first CLD organisations in Scotland to receive the Digital CLD Award – which recognises and celebrates high-quality digital services and learning practices that are supporting the growth of digitally talented young people and adults.

Furthermore, the awards seek to recognise the ways that Community Learning and Development (CLD) services and organisations promote effective use of digital technologies to enhance learning and engagement opportunities in youth work, adult learning, and community development programmes. It is delivered through a collaboration between education bodies and industry partners.

The pilot is being funded by Scottish Government’s Community Learning and Development policy team and is focused on strengthening organisations’ skills across key areas, helping them to build their own, and their learners’, digital skills, digital literacies and strong digital wellbeing.

Seven organisations across youth work, adult learning, and community development programmes in Scotland have been taking part in the pilot which is the first initiative of its kind in the sector.

Lead Scotland CEO, Emma Whitelock, said: “Lead Scotland is delighted to be one of the first CLD organisations in Scotland to receive the Digital CLD Award.

“I’m incredibly proud of the staff and volunteer team who work with learners across Scotland, supporting people to realise technology as a force for good.

“I encourage other CLD organisations to take up the opportunity to undertake this Award. It offers the opportunity to give yourselves a good MOT in relation to digital and there are great sources of support on hand to learn and improve.”

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