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by Sofia Villegas
10 November 2023
Climate Action Summit: Tech sector needs ‘massive’ economic boost

The panel called for more collaboration to bring about successful green economy | Alamy

Climate Action Summit: Tech sector needs ‘massive’ economic boost

The chief executive of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry has called for a “massive increase in investment” for the climate tech “unicorn”.

Sara Thiam addressed the need to capitalise on the innovative technology at Holyrood’s Climate Action Summit at Dynamic Earth earlier this week.

Her call for the “need for the sector to grow” follows last month’s announcement that capital investments in the industry have fallen by 40 per cent in 2023 due to ongoing economic upheaval and geopolitical conflicts.

Thiam formed part of a panel which focused on the farming sector after a poll sent to delegates saw regenerative agriculture as Scotland’s greatest opportunity - receiving 37 per cent of the total votes.

David Farquar, chief executive of Intelligent Growth Solutions, said he was “surprised” by the poll as he explained that growing food “at completely the wrong place” was the reason behind the “empty supermarket shelves” and “rotten fruit” crisis.

He said: “Seventy-two per cent of all the food grown in the world is shipped from one subcontinent to another. And if Waste were a country, after India and China, it would be the third biggest consumer of Scottish strawberries. Forty-five per cent of them, this is the average throughout the world, are thrown away and not planted when you get to forestry.

“When you buy handpicked and washed spinach and you turn it around, there is a nutrition panel on the back. Eighty per cent of what's on that nutrition panel had gone 30 minutes after it was washed. So they're allowed to do the nutrition test before they wash the crop. And we got this from the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen. So you think you're buying vitamin B, vitamin C and iron, you're buying leaf mass.

“The world does not yet know how broken the agricultural forestry industries are…”

Panel members also addressed the need to protect technology investors - especially after the economic turmoil caused by Covid-19 - as well as the need more collaboration to create an economy that does not “trash the planet.”

Thiam said: “It takes all of us to build it. And we cannot have a thriving economy without strong public services and a thriving third sector.

“So I suppose what I will say is to come to the table with a willingness to collaborate, to listen, to identify what it is you have at your disposal to bring to the party and to really think much more entrepreneurially about sharing risk and reward.”

Last year, the Scottish Government set out the next steps for Scotland to become a leader in the sector.

Aiming to meet Scotland's food needs with a sustainable approach, the plans outlined how supporting and collaborating farmers and crofters would be at the core of their efforts going forward.

Among other several measures included in the proposal was the deployment of technology and innovation to “improve business resilience, efficiency and productivity”.

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