CRN Tech Impact: Scottish Tech Army co-founder reveals long-term plans

Alistair Forbes says not-for-profit mobilising Scottish tech talent will broaden its remit beyond Covid response

Doug Woodburn
clock • 2 min read

The Scottish Tech Army is widening its focus from Covid-response to coordinating tech-for-good endeavours.

That's the message of its co-founder Alistair Forbes, who was speaking to CRN exclusively for last week's Tech Impact Summit and Awards (which can be viewed on-demand here).

Created last April during the depths of the first lockdown, the not-for-profit's original remit was to mobilise furloughed and unemployed Scottish tech talent to help with the country's Covid response.

Its efforts saw founders Forbes and Peter Jaco recognised in the New Year's Honour's List.

But Forbes said he now sees a long-term role for the organisation, which has recruited over 1,600 volunteers during its 17-month lifespan.

"We're still seeing new volunteers coming in every week; we're still seeing new projects coming in every week," he said.

"That was really the catalyst for us deciding that there was a longer-term role we could play with the Scottish Tech Army. So we've transitioned from what was very much a Covid-response initiative in the first instance, to an organisation that has a much broader remit around tech for good more generally."

The Scottish Tech Army initially took on a raft of health and social care-related projects, including rolling out systems to help local organisations procure PPE more effectively. It also helped Young Enterprise Scotland continue its work of inspiring schoolchildren remotely during the pandemic, with digital exclusion another priority area.

"There is a lot of really good work that has been going on in the last year or so," Forbes said.

"But very often, these initiatives are relatively disconnected and aren't well coordinated. So we're keen to help play a part in trying to coordinate some of that and to build the tech-for-good ecosystem."

"We've worked with a lot of partners over the course of the time we've been in operation so far. And where we're at now is very much about trying to reach out both to organisations that are already active, but also to those that are not yet, and try and show them what's possible, what can be done."

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