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Tech 100: 'There has never been a better time that small teams of smart people can disrupt existing thinking'

Tech 100: 'There has never been a better time that small teams of smart people can disrupt existing thinking'

Professor Bill Buchanan Image credit: The Cyber Academy

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.

In academia we don’t stick with the status quo and we like to identify the issues that are holding things back.

With this we often look into ways that will disrupt existing ways of thinking and look to create impact on our society.

So, with cloud technology at our fingertips, I think there has never been a better time that small teams of smart people can disrupt existing thinking and create a large-scale impact on our society.


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In Scotland, I have recently seen massive changes in attitudes towards innovation, especially in the public sector and in large companies, and an increasing awareness that we need to do everything possible to support our up-and-coming companies.

This year has been an amazing year for us and we feel so confident about the future.

It was the year that we achieved our third spin-out company, Cyan Forensics, which adds to our two other highly successful spin-outs: Zonefox and Symphonic Software.

As a leader in its field, Zonefox continues to make great strides and will hopefully, as many people predict, become a world leader within cyber security.

With the leadership of Dr Jamie Graves, someone who has vision and the technical foundation to see it through, it is in safe hands.

With Symphonic Software, we are also seeing a major impact. It is fulfilling our dreams where information can be shared across health and social care.

Over the years we have highlighted that the lack of information sharing is one of the major barriers in pushing forward healthcare in the UK.

It has thus taken make years for our vision to come true, but now Symphonic Software is integrating over 7,000 health and social care entities in London and looking to its part in revolutionising health care.

This includes primary and secondary healthcare, dentists, social care, third sector, and is one of the most ambitious information sharing projects in the world.

If it works, it could scale up into many regions of the world and be applied into many sectors where information sharing is key (such as in cyber security).

Our dream has always been to allow citizens and their families to become an active part of their healthcare and for healthcare processes to integrate with them, rather than the other way around.

For our latest spin-out, Cyan Forensics, we have been investigating new ways of performing quick assessments of computer assessments, as the workload for investigators has increased to the point that it is difficult to cope with.

Again we hope to disrupt existing ways of thinking and completely change the search methods used within investigations.

There is now a real recognition that innovation is a fundamental part of our current and future economy and we must do everything possible to stimulate and support it.

On our doorstep we have Interface Online, The Data Labs, the DHI, CENSIS, Scottish Enterprise, SDI and so many other organisations who are there to help support innovation and build bridges and, hopefully, make an impact.

Companies should thus do everything possible to build up a collaborative environment and especially to engage with SMEs.

Stimulating and encouraging our next generation to get into tech-related careers, too, should be a key strategy, along with providing every child with the best possible opportunity to achieve their maximum potential. 

For my city, Edinburgh, I adore every day living and working here and it has helped us at every single point in our development.

It is cultured, educated, enterprising, innovative and, of course, stunningly beautiful. It motivates me every day and there are few better places in the world to live and work.

In other cities in Scotland too, especially in Glasgow, you see the growth of tech and finance-related businesses where the supply of technology graduates is a key part of this growth.

If possible we should do everything possible to continue to keep and attract talent from around the world, welcome them to make Scotland their home and support them in building the amazing companies of the future. 

Personally, I have never felt so positive about the future and our current and next generation.

The way that people across different sectors work together in our cities and across the county is inspirational.

We need to continue to support this and provide a home for the smartest people, no matter their background, who can thrive.

It is wonderful to live in such an amazing city and have such great students who go on to achieve great things.

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow… and we will continue to plant and nurture our little acorns.

Professor Bill Buchanan is a professor of computing at Edinburgh Napier University and lead with the development of The Cyber Academy.

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