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Colin Cook is Director Digital at Scottish Government. This includes responsibility for Scottish Government’s Civtech incubator, Digital Transformation Service and National Ecosystem, delivery of Superfast broadband, promoting digital skills and tackling digital exclusion.
Outside of Scottish Government, Colin’s experience includes spells as Marketing Director, both for British Army and Royal Mail’s core Letters Business.
Scottish Government published its new digital strategy in March 2017. It sets out an integrated programme of activity to extend superfast connectivity to all by 2021, promote Scotland’s tech businesses at home and abroad, increase digital skills and participation and put digital at the heart of public service reform. In its commitment to tackling the gender and other equalities gaps in digital, supporting Scottish society to embrace the social implications of digital, building the organisations required to deliver new powers on digital business models and establishing Scotland as a test bed for new forms of connectivity, the new strategy continues Scotland’s recent tradition of innovation in all aspects of the digital agenda.
Over the past few years, Scotland has done things differently. Superfast broadband was procured in a coordinated way, with local authorities contributing additional resources to a national contract rather than negotiating individual agreements; Scottish Government worked with industry to establish the Codeclan digital skills academy which is now producing high quality software engineering talent for both the public sector and the country’s burgeoning tech industries; and action to tackle digital exclusion has been led by a partnership between Scottish Government and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, which has already provided funding to 126 community projects across Scotland.
A glance through this year’s nominations for DL100 provides more examples of our approach. They include Civtech, believed to be the world’s first Government backed business incubator focussed exclusively on meeting public service challenges, which is now attracting international attention; Digital Boost, which offers high quality advice on digital issues to Scottish businesses; and Connecting the Unconnected, which is doing so much to promote digital inclusion through Scotland’s housing associations.
Scotland can do this, because its approach to digital is based on collaboration and partnership. Whether its building networks of academics and leading business people who can challenge our ideas; working with UK Government Digital Service around the development of the Digital, Data and Technology profession; the decision by Scottish local authorities to appoint a Chief Digital Officer and Chief Technical Officer to drive collective action; or the way in which we are working with stakeholders to co-produce and embed a Scottish approach to service design across the public sector, the benefits of working across traditional boundaries are clear.
As Scottish Government’s Digital Director and a member of DL100’s Steering Board in Scotland, I am committed to building an even greater spirit of collaboration and partnership in the years ahead. The Scottish Government lies at the heart of an ecosystem of talent in our country – in our businesses, our public services and our universities – and we want to leverage this ecosystem to transform services, deliver sustainable economic growth and ensure that Scotland realises its full potential in the digital world.