In the backdrop of a year marked by global challenges, Scottish businesses have demonstrated an extraordinary resilience. The landscape over the last twelve months has been anything but stable, with challenges ranging from the conflict in Ukraine to new tensions in the Middle East. Yet, in the face of these external adversities, Scotland’s economy has not only held steady but also shown signs of growth, albeit modest.

The resilience of the Scottish economy is particularly noteworthy given the broader context. Globally, economies have been rattled, leading many to brace for downturns. In Scotland, however, the situation is somewhat different. The economy here managed to avoid a sharp recession that many feared would envelop the entire UK. This outcome is remarkable considering the initial predictions of a downturn. The growth rate, standing at 0.6%, though slight, is a significant improvement over the 0.2% fall forecasted in March.

This positive turn can be attributed in part to the proactive measures introduced by the Chancellor. Over 100 initiatives aimed at stimulating growth have been launched. These measures include permanent tax breaks for businesses investing in machinery, IT, and equipment, a move that allows these expenses to be offset against corporation tax. Additionally, many small firms, especially in the hospitality sector, have been given extended business rate relief. These actions signify a concerted effort by the government to not just sustain but invigorate the business sector.

At the heart of Scotland’s strategy for future prosperity lies a commitment to collaboration and innovation. This was the central theme at the flagship annual event held at the Old Course in St Andrews. The event brought together over 100 participants from across the Scottish business ecosystem, including representatives from the NHS, VisitScotland, local authorities, and major companies like Wood Group, Dell, and Apple. The discussions and idea exchanges that took place underscored the potential of collaborative efforts in driving economic growth and societal progress.

A standout presentation at the event was made by Dr. Hina Khan, Executive Director of Space Scotland. Dr. Khan highlighted the burgeoning space industry, which is poised to contribute significantly to Scotland’s economy by 2030. This sector, according to her, has the potential to not only add over £4 billion annually to the economy but also create quality jobs and establish Scotland as a leader in commercial space developments in Europe.

Another important aspect of the conference was the presentation by Clelland Sneddon, chief executive of South Lanarkshire Council and chair of SOLACE Scotland. Sneddon provided insights into how local authorities are overcoming challenges related to funding and the cost of living crisis. He showcased around 50 collaborations with the private sector, where technology is being leveraged to reimagine future towns and cities through service redesign and innovation.

One of the event’s highlights was the partnership between CGI and Scottish Borders Council. CGI, as the primary provider of IT and business consulting services to the council, has focused on collaboration and innovation to meet the increasing demand for high-quality care at home services. CGI’s contribution through a digital platform, developed with Totalmobile, a Field Service Management software provider, is a testament to how technology can streamline processes and improve efficiency.

CGI’s involvement in Scottish business innovation doesn’t stop there. CGI is also a part of the SEEDS program, supported by the United Nations. This program is a collaboration with academia to explore how technology can contribute to environmental and social change. This initiative aligns with Scotland’s broader ambitions of building a sustainable, net-zero economy.

Moreover, CGI is leading the way in the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in business. CGI’s AI solutions, such as CGI Machine Vision, are revolutionising maintenance and repair operations. This technology not only reduces costs but also allows engineers to focus on higher-value tasks.

These examples are indicative of a broader trend in Scottish business – a shift towards innovative thinking and collaborative efforts. This approach is not just about weathering the current storm but is aimed at feeding into a new era of cooperation and growth through technological advancement.

As Scotland navigates these challenging times, the business community’s focus on innovation and collaboration, supported by government initiatives, paints a hopeful picture. The future, though uncertain, seems bright with the promise of growth and prosperity driven by technological advancements and strategic partnerships. Scottish businesses, with their resilience and forward-thinking approaches, are well-positioned to turn current challenges into opportunities for sustained growth and success.