Jamie Steed, Scottish Government Innovation Policy & Delivery Lead, is part of the team planning the CAN DO Innovation Summit, headline event of VentureFest 2019. In our first blog, Jamie talks to us about innovation in gaming, why you shouldn’t be afraid to try something new and which graffiti artist he’d invite to a dinner party.
What’s your day job?
Innovation Policy & Delivery Lead within the Economic Development Directorate of the Scottish Government. I lead on driving forward a couple of priorities from the Innovation Action Plan – to encourage more business innovation and support sectors and places.
What’s your role in VentureFest 2019?
I am a member of the CAN DO Innovation Summit taskforce which is working collaboratively, with a range of organisations, planning the headline event for VentureFest 2019. Through this event and feeder events we will help SMEs navigate Scotland’s innovation support landscape, explore which disruptive technologies will help reinforce our business base and highlight innovative workplace behaviours.
Why is fostering a culture of discovery and innovation so important for Scottish SMEs and for society as a whole?
With the rise of technology, the world is much more connected, we need to ensure Scotland remains a cutting edge, dynamic, innovative nation so that our business base is able to compete in the global market place. It is also hugely important the we connect innovation and technology to Scottish society and use it in a way that helps to drive our ambitions around inclusive growth.
In your opinion, was is the most exciting development in Scottish innovation in the past five years?
It is a little bit over five years, but for me I think the network of innovation centres are the most exciting development for the Scottish innovation landscape. I have been lucky enough to visit the majority of them and they are doing some fantastic work through collaboration with business and academia. The collaborative work they are doing to tackle social problems is fascinating by bringing cross-sectoral interests such as the £1 million Cancer Innovation Challenge which is bringing together the innovation centres to work collaboratively to help Scotland become a world-leading carer for people with cancer through open innovation funding calls for data science solutions.
What three key assets make Scotland a distinctive and world-class place to invest in innovation?
- Our innovation support system.
- Our world-renowned academic base: not just our world class universities but also our network of colleges, who are working increasingly closely with industry to help develop the skills we will need to succeed in the economy of the future.
- Our people and culture – innovative, dynamic and creative.
What impact does the culture of an SME have on its ability to innovate?
100% – an open-minded culture is essential. I think that innovative leadership and the willingness to collaborate is critical to SMEs being able to innovate and diversify into new markets. They should continually look at what their customer base wants to be able to futureproof their business by providing alterations to their products or services in line with cultural or technological progressions.
Looking to the future, what technology challenges and opportunities do SMEs face?
In an increasingly global world Scottish SMEs need to understand how to embrace and use technology to help them hold their own in the face of international competition. Tech is not just for tech companies – all SMEs can benefit from it regardless of sector. This means they will need to invest in skills – and keep investing. Having a growth mind set needs to underpin all of this.
What advice do you have for aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs?
Do – Collaborate – by working with others you will get different perspectives and access to a range of skills and experiences that you might not if working exclusively.
Don’t – Be afraid to try something new – innovation is all about trying something new. If it works, great, but if not learn from it and build on that for the next time.
Who is ‘one to watch’ in innovation in Scotland?
As a lifelong gamer, I am really looking forward to see what comes out of the Innovation for Games and Media Enterprise (InGAME) in Dundee. It is a £12 million R&D centre led by Abertay University, in partnership with the University of Dundee, the University of St Andrews and local and international industry partners.
And finally… you’re having a dinner party and you have to invite an entrepreneur, an innovator and a creative, dead or alive. Who are your three guests?
The choices I have made I think would make a pretty lively dinner party.
Entrepreneur – Gizzi Erskine (chef, restaurant owner, presenter).
Innovator – Richie Hawtin (cutting-edge electronic musician, record label owner, promoter and PLAYdifferently owner which is hand build in Scotland).
Creative – Jean-Michel Basquiat (pioneering graffiti artist).