Grant Smith, Chair of Digital for Opportunity North East, shares his thoughts on what to look out for in 2022 and their significance for the regional economy.
Advances in technology combined with the ongoing global economic and political maelstrom continue to drive uncertainty and create opportunity.
Digital transformation will continue to play a key role in 2022 with Health-Tech, Life Sciences and WEB3 continuing to provide disruption in the market. In healthcare, a traditionally slow moving market, the speed of innovation has dramatically increased with doctors using video calls for appointments, digital health passports and Dashboards now being part of the public consciousness. Health professionals can now use sensor technology to supplement traditional care packages and understand behaviour patterns. This can have a tangible impact on early detection and intervention for a range of conditions including dementia, mobility and a wide range of rehabilitation services
Healthtech solutions create the opportunity to customise people’s healthcare with interventions focused on planning and care management leading to more patient centric, personalised and preventative care.
One example is RGU MSc Data Science student Reji Jacob, who is one of the first participants on the ONE Codebase Tech Startup Fundamentals programme. Having worked in the care sector for six years, he launched his company Intelligent Frame in March. His product monitors the health status of elderly people living independently, delivers information in real time via an app to the end user – a relative or healthcare professional. The technology can be used to extend the time elderly people live independently and by care homes to gather routine resident well-being information freeing up staff for other duties.
WEB3 and Blockchain technology is one to watch. There’s more to it than crypto currencies.
What is WEB3? Opinions on this differ somewhat. Web3 is currently a work-in-progress and isn’t exactly defined yet. However, the main principle is that it will be decentralized – rather than controlled by governments and corporations, as is the case with today’s internet.
A blockchain is essentially a digital record of transactions that is duplicated and distributed across the entire network of computer systems on the blockchain, making it difficult or impossible to change, hack, or cheat the system.
Blockchain provides a key layer of WEB3: the new construct removing reliance on large commercial organisations and devolving the control and value into the community that is generating the value. Outside decentralised finance, we are still looking for that breakthrough application that will bring it into people's everyday life.
In north east Scotland, blockchain is set to play a vital role in supply chains across the key sectors - from traceability of high quality food and drink products and digital passports for livestock to smart contract technology in the energy industry. There are huge opportunities for early adopters to transform their business through improved efficiency, traceability and transparency.
TrackGenesis demonstrate their technology at a recent agritech workshop delivered by Opportunity North East
Locally, TrackGenesis is a blockchain based software company building solutions for clients in the food and drink and fashion industry. The team worked with Aberdeen-based Mad Potato to develop Scotland's first blockchain-powered software platform to show the provenance of fruit and vegetables. A QR code on their veg box connects the consumer to the person who has grown or produced the food, providing a true sense of authenticity.
The tech is highly scalable and transferable to other sectors including energy for example, where there is potential in areas such as repurposing assets as part of energy transition and the creation of decentralised trusted carbon footprint data.
Programmes like EnergyTech, delivered by Opportunity North East, CodeBase and Barclays Eagle Labs are driving change and helping energy sector businesses build their understanding of the role and impact of tech for their organisation.
Looking ahead, it's an exciting yet uncertain time in the tech space. There’s lots of activity across all sectors in the region with all sectors involved, I doubt there has been as much opportunity to get involved in a tech related business in recent times, from entrepreneurial education, start-ups through to corporate transformation.
The Logan report, commissioned by the Scottish Government, recognised the importance of tech and the potential for north east Scotland to play a crucial role in Scotland’s digital economy. Implementing the Logan recommendations will drive digital technology development and adoption. Opportunity North East is committed to support and actively participate in the national Tech Scaler Network to positively impact the regional economy.
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