Next Silicon Glen could be in the Highlands and Islands

Scottish Parliament Economy Committee member Jamie Halcro Johnston MSP will today highlight the potential of the digital economy to providing future growth across the Highlands and Islands.

Speaking in today’s Scottish Government debate on developing digital industries, the Conservative MSP will flag up the potential for high skilled technology jobs to be an economic driver across the region, as well as raising the ongoing issue of poor broadband connectivity locally.

Mr Halcro Johnston said “Where the conditions are right, the tech sector can be an engine of growth, providing and supporting local economic hubs in regions like mine.

“The next Silicon Glen could be based in the Highlands. Or in one of our island communities. Or even a “Connectivity Coast” in Moray. That’s achievable if there is a willingness for government to work collaboratively with existing local organisations like colleges and universities.

“However, there are other key elements which need to be in place. The connectivity problems my region faces are unfortunately stark, with the Highlands and Islands region containing the majority of the worst-performing areas for broadband download speeds in the entire UK.

“It is unfortunately a blunt fact that, for much of the rural Highlands and Islands, digital exclusion, rather than inclusion, is the norm.

“If the technology sector is to be a driver of regional growth rather than of deepening regional inequality, then those barriers will have to be broken down and those many years of exclusion reversed”.