The evolution of high-growth tech firms in Scotland

By Lynsey Walker, dispute resolution partner and tech specialist at Addleshaw Goddard


Technology and digital innovation have played an important role throughout the pandemic, which rapidly accelerated a global reliance on connected services.

Digital innovation has protected many businesses which, despite traditionally not being online operators, have been able to pivot through a technology-first approach, providing business continuity which previously would have been an expensive challenge.

As the wider economy opened as Scotland was moved to level 0, our continued ability to work from home while also remaining connected with friends, family and social groups underlines how vital technology and digital innovation is to the country’s economic recovery. It is clear that the loosening of restrictions is not going to result in a return to all of our pre-pandemic practices.

Central to this is the understanding that tech underpins all sectors, from education to manufacturing, rather than a standalone stream supplying businesses with IT or other more traditional machines.

In recognition of this, the Scottish Government has made more funding available to help businesses take advantage of digital technologies to improve their productivity, increase their resilience and create new market opportunities. An additional £11.8 million, announced in November 2020, will go towards helping businesses to adopt digital technologies and improve their digital capabilities.

Looking at the fintech sector specifically, Scotland already boasts one of Europe’s most successful offerings and is projected for notable growth in the years ahead. Innovators are looking to the future and are driving a collaborative agenda in a bid to make impactful change across the sector and for consumers alike.

The launch of the Kalifa Review earlier this year marked a significant milestone for the UK fintech sector, as it set out a strategy that will accelerate growth over the next three years - again enabling post-pandemic recovery.

Deservingly, Scotland was earmarked as a standout region thanks to the continued development of its Fintech Scotland Cluster model. With input from Fintech Scotland, the Kalifa Review sets out a five-point plan to leverage innovation through a positive regulatory environment, developing diverse skills, facilitating investment to scale enterprises and accelerating a targeted approach to inward investment. It will be fascinating to see how we gather momentum in enabling this through investment, innovation and job creation.

Just last week, UK Government ministers were given an exclusive glimpse into the evolving Scottish fintech community as part of an event hosted by FinTech Scotland. Secretary of State for Trade, Liz Truss, and Scotland Secretary, Alister Jack, paid a visit to the Bayes Centre to meet some of the companies driving the thriving fintech ecosystem.

Over the last five years, Addleshaw Goddard has developed its AG Elevate programme, designed to accelerate start-ups and guide fast-growing tech firms through the legal challenges they face. We’re proud to have supported more than 30 fintech and technology entrepreneurs’ innovative businesses, helping many go on to operate internationally.

Originally designed for fintech firms, this year Addleshaw Goddard welcomed all high-growth tech businesses to the scheme and has also placed a greater focus on businesses with an emphasis on sustainability.

Given Addleshaw Goddard’s experience and insight into the tech sector, this year we also launched the Aspiring Unicorns campaign to support high-growth tech firms. We are encouraging as many businesses and entrepreneurs as possible to get involved.

Aspiring Unicorns comprises seven critical lessons for high-growth technology firms to consider such as data, disputes, IP and investments, and we will be delivering relevant insights on these themes over the coming months.

We’ve developed our support programmes as we recognise the supportive infrastructure, innovation and opportunities that are all available within Scotland for high-growth tech and fintech firms. While the last year has been challenging collectively, tech and digital innovation’s positive influence throughout has reinforced why we are committed to championing its capabilities.

Collaborative leadership, entrepreneurial mindsets and support from government is required for Scotland to spearhead the fintech sector at a global level, and it’s evident that we have these tools to continue such drive.

For more information about the Aspiring Unicorns programme, visit: