Scotland has long been a breeding ground for innovation – it brought us the invention of the TV, passenger steamboat, telephone, radar, ultrasound scanner and bicycle, as well as the discovery of penicillin and the cloning of Dolly the Sheep. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, my great grandfather even chipped in with an invention of his own – the Cold Air Balloon.
Unfortunately, that never really took off, but the Scots are still coming up with their fair share of world changing innovations, as is highlighted by its thriving tech scene. Here are just a handful of the most successful tech companies making a difference to peoples’ lives around the globe.
Based in Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, SkyScanner enables users to compare prices on flights hotels and car hire from different providers. The travel search engine and comparison site is easily one of the fastest growing companies in the UK. Earlier this month, it raised £128m in its latest round of funding, transforming it into a unicorn (a start up company valued at more than $1bn)
This digital media website was born in its teenage founder’s bedroom in Aberdeen back in the summer of 2005.
It markets itself as a media site for the connected generation and, now one of the world’s most popular websites, it has clearly come a long way since its bedroom beginnings. Today, headquarted in New York, the website generates more than 42 million hits per month and has more than 6.5 million followers on Twitter.
A successful cow analytics company? Pull the udder one. But Edinburgh-based IceRobotics is just that – a developer and provider of data collection and analysis products for monitoring dairy cow behaviour. Academic institutions and behaviour researchers across the world have given its tech the thumbs up.
Edinburgh-based video game developer Rockstar North is best known for creating the Grand Theft Auto and Lemmings franchises in its earlier guise as DMA Design. Since 1999 the firm has been a subsidiary of Rockstar Games. As well as being the primary developer of the Grand Theft Auto series, it also works with other Rockstar studios on video games such as Max Payne 3 and Red Dead Redemption. Grand Theft Auto V has earned more than $2bn since its release in 2013.
FanDuel, a web-based prediction market game company, was launched in Edinburgh by Hubdub in 2009, after taking in 800,000 in venture capital funding from Pentech Ventures and Scottish Enterprise.
It held its first FanDuel Fantasy (American) Football Championship (FFFC) in 2010, which involved just 10 competitors who had won entry into the event by winning a qualifying league throughout the NFL season. First place was awarded $25,000, with a total of $40,000 dished out.
In 2014, the company struck a deal with the National Basketball Association (NBA). As part of the deal the NBA gained an equity stake in FanDuel and promotes FanDuel as the ‘Official One-Day Fantasy Basketball Game.’ FanDuel has also partnered with 16 NFL teams and 14 NBA teams.
The company now has offices in New York, Orlando and Los Angeles, as well as the rather more exotic Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Based in Dundee and East Linton, this video game development studio has worked with a number of publishers including Mojang, Microsoft Studios and ZeniMax Media. The company created The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Banjo Kazooie, Banjo Tooie and Overlord: Raising Hell, but is perhaps best known for creating the hugely popular Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition.
This information and communications technology (ICT) company says it specialises in ‘deploying technology and business change’. Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Edinburgh. Agenor Technology has developed a Professional Services division and launched ICEFLO, a cloud-based SaaS solution. It was the winner of the 2014 Deloitte UK Fast 50, which recognises the 50 fastest growing tech firms in the UK.
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