Today we can reveal the inaugural Scotland Tech 50 – our ranking of the country’s most exciting technology companies.
Intelligent Growth Solutions was crowned the most innovative tech company in Scotland after securing backing from both an independent judging panel and the general public.
The company is a pioneer in vertical farming, where crops are grown indoors using LED lights on snooker table-sized trays which can be stacked high.
IGS is led by CEO David Farquhar, a former British Army captain with a long and distinguished career in business. You can read here about how he was inspired to come out of retirement to lead a business which could potentially change global food production using artificial intelligence and Internet of Things-enabled technologies.
“The way I describe it to my mates in the pub is take a field, cut it up into snooker tables, put the crops on the top and the weather on the bottom, stack them nine metres high inside a box and control it with your mobile phone,” Farquhar told BusinessCloud.
IGS is headquartered in Edinburgh and has its first farm near Dundee. With Series A funding of £7 million behind it, the start-up already has hubs in Chicago and three other European countries and is looking to open a base in Southeast Asia.
“We’re thrilled and honoured to have been chosen by the Scotland Tech 50 judges and the public,” said Farquhar.
“It’s very exciting for an early-stage company like us to have that sort of an accolade so we’re very grateful to you guys and very grateful to everyone who voted for us.”
Judge Karen Meechan, head of operations at ScotlandIS, told BusinessCloud that Farquhar was critical to turning a joint farm-university project into a fast-growing business.
“They have created a system that allows for high-yield, organic-quality produce to be grown with a very small carbon footprint and which can be installed almost anywhere from cities to brownfield sites,” she added.
“They are incredibly worthy as being named No.1 in the top 50 companies to watch in Scotland – and I can’t wait to see where the next part of this journey takes them.”
Farquhar is also a current shareholder in loyalty card app Swipii, number six on the Scotland Tech 50 ranking. He formerly served as non-executive chairman of the Glasgow company.
IGS was followed in the ranking by four other Edinburgh-based businesses. In second spot was Speech Graphics, which develops software capable of delivering speech animation and lip sync from audio alone.
TravelNest, travel tech for holiday property listings, was third ahead of TVSquared, which provides analytics for TV ad campaigns.
Airts, an AI-powered planning platform for professional services, rounded out the top five.
You can see the full top 50 ranking, which was compiled from a shortlist of 107 disruptive companies, here.
The public vote on the shortlist attracted 1,700 votes. A panel of expert judges also made their choices. The final 50 ranking was decided from a combination of these.
The judging panel was comprised of Karen Meechan (mentioned above); Hazel Gibbens, entrepreneur engagement manager, Tech Nation; Andrew Sloane, investment lead in Scotland and the North West, ADV; Evelyn McDonald, CEO, Scottish EDGE; Alistair Forbes, investment director, head of software and the internet, Mercia; and Stephen Taylor, CEO, Technology Scotland; and Jonathan Symcox, editor, BusinessCloud.
Scotland Tech 50 is one of 11 annual regional ranked lists which will aim to shine a light on the companies of all sizes who are doing amazing things with technology.
We will publish one ranked list a month every year from February through to December. Full details are available here and the rankings are accessible from the ‘featured lists’ dropdown on the website navigation above.