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Scotland’s cities leading in drive for innovation and entrepreneurship, according to Nesta CITIE report

Scotland’s cities leading in drive for innovation and entrepreneurship, according to Nesta CITIE report

Perth - Image credit: Eugene Birchill/Wikimedia Commons

Scotland’s cities are performing well compared to European peers in innovation and entrepreneurship, according to a new report.

Nesta’s CITIE: The Scotland Analysis reports that the seven Scottish cities as a group are performing better than their European counterparts in six out of nine areas, with “clear strengths” in openness and leadership.

It rates Glasgow and Edinburgh among the best globally of those analysed so far, along with places like Paris and Tel Aviv, while Scotland’s smaller cities also “punch above their weight”.

However, Scotland lags behind North American cities in all but one of the nine roles.


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CITIE (City Initiatives for Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship) is a joint project between Nesta, Accenture and Future Cities Catapult.

It provides a framework and diagnostic tool for cities to see how they perform against 50 other cities worldwide, as well as a range of examples of best practice and recommendations for improvement.

The report on Scotland’s cities makes 13 overall recommendations for change, which “will support them to accelerate their support for innovation and entrepreneurship, and compete with the global leaders”.

It also sets out key strengths and weaknesses of each of the country’s seven cities individually, highlighting two areas for improvement with reference to global best practice.

“By cities actioning policy tweaks and amplifying existing initiatives on an individual basis, and by recognising where important opportunities exist for collaboration across the region, Scottish cities have the potential to take the lead in their innovation capability,” it says.

One major focus for leaders is to encourage cities to think about how to use the vast amounts of data cities generate, with the report recommending the creation of city or region-based offices of data analytics.

It also recommends the creation of city-wide internet of things (IoT) platforms to encourage innovation and for all procurement contracts to be open by default.

Actions too are recommended for promoting business relocation and growth in Scotland and for engagement with citizens, including the use of real time data.

Dundee is praised for its “strong tech community” and increase in digital turnover, but the report says it could be held back by its lack of digital strategy or permanent senior leadership in the form of a chief information or digital officer.

Similarly, the report states that Inverness needs stronger leadership and better resourced teams to realise its digital first programme, saying that the region’s soon-to-be-appointed digital champions could be given a broader remit that allows better alignment of smart city, open data and digital projects.

Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen are praised for their leadership and collaborative approaches, but Aberdeen and Glasgow are told to increase their promotion of local entrepreneurs and SMEs, while Edinburgh is told to focus on future-proofing local digital connectivity.

Stirling was also told to increase its public WiFi, which the report says is only available in libraries, and the city has one of the slowest broadband speeds in the Scottish analysis.

Both Stirling and Perth were told to consider how to generate more data and open up existing datasets.

The chair of the Scottish Cities Alliance, City of Edinburgh Council leader Andrew Burns, welcomed the findings and promised to act on the recommendations.

He said: “I am delighted that the research shows that Scotland’s seven cities are at the forefront of this hi-tech agenda.

“Between them, Scotland’s cities are rivalling cities such as Paris and Tel Aviv and punching above their collective weight in terms of innovation.

“This provides a strong basis for the cities to build on existing activity and work together to deliver our Smart Cities Scotland ambition to be world leading in this field.

“The Alliance, which is the collaboration between the seven cities and the Scottish Government, will work together to take forward some of the key recommendations of the report which are pivotal to securing Scotland’s cities ongoing success to the benefit of its citizens, businesses and Scotland.”

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