A leading tech entrepreneur has warned that Scotland cannot continue to build a prosperous economy on ‘stripping natural resources’.
Chris van der Kuyl, who co-founded game developer 4J Studios in Dundee, outlined the challenges the country faces after being appointed to a panel advising the Scottish government’s long-term economic plan.
He called for massive investment in education so that Scotland can compete in new technical fields with “wit and talent”.
Mr van der Kuyl, whose company is known for developing the popular Minecraft game for consoles, joins well-respected figures on the new panel, announced by Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes this month.
He called for a transformation in dependence on fossil fuels, such as oil and gas, in the year a major climate change conference is held in Glasgow.
“For Scotland to have a great 21st century, we have to recognize that the last two or three hundred years of the Scottish economy being quite healthy were all based on the depletion of natural resources,” he said in an interview with BBC Radio Scotland.
“It will never be that again. The only natural resource we will use is our own mind, our own creative talent, our own intellectual talent, our own technical talent.
He added: “We have had this incredible 40 or 50 year run of the energy sector, especially in the North East of Scotland being a driving force. It is now definitely on the decline.
“How to replace that? There is no doubt that this lies in the intellectual capacity of every Scotsman. I’m not just talking about those who are university professors. I mean everyone who comes out of our education system.
“Our education system must transform itself into a 21st century powerhouse. “
He said too much emphasis was placed on public sector jobs, calling for a change in attitude to foster “risk” among the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. He named successful Scottish companies like Skyscanner and the game developers behind the hit series Grand Theft Auto.
Mr van der Kuyl wants the government to encourage technical and creative talent and “critical thinking”. The tech expert also suggested Scotland could use more borrowing powers to invest in projects to become the ‘best-educated nation’.
He said: “We should borrow heavily, secured against the future of these Scottish people.”
In an initial warning to the government, he also said the panel should be taken seriously with real government action to set Scotland’s course.
“Every day that I have is packed – I don’t have time to come to a chat shop if there won’t be any results,” he said.
“Pretty soon people like me and some of the others involved will lose patience with the process if we don’t focus and talk about tough decisions. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating.
“The dawn of a low carbon revolution”
Oil and Gas UK communications director Natalie Coupar said the energy sector has a lot to offer going forward.
She said: “Far from being in decline, Scotland is on the cusp of a low carbon energy revolution and our citizens and communities are in the driver’s seat.
“The UK’s offshore oil and gas industry is evolving and will continue to play a key role in the economy, supporting jobs and creating exciting energy careers for the future.
“From the Aberdeen Energy Transition Zone to the dismantling expertise being formed in Dundee, it has never been more important to support local businesses that have the energy to lead the world in the process. race to zero.
Ms Forbes announced the new group on July 9. The advisory group also includes Energy Transition Zone chief Maggie McGinlay and former Skyscanner boss Mark Logan.
The panel includes Nick MacPherson, a former senior Treasury official who notably advised the British government against allowing a monetary union in the event of Scottish independence.
Glasgow University Director Anton Muscatelli and Dundee City Council Chief John Alexander are also on the panel.
Announcing the plan at the time, Ms Forbes said: ‘As we emerge from the pandemic, we must work together to seize Scotland’s potential and build an economy for all by delivering greater, greener and more prosperity. more just.
“The pandemic has brought about fundamental changes in industries such as retail and changed the way many businesses operate with more e-commerce and remote working. We must take advantage of these innovations and orient our economy towards the industries and opportunities of the future.
“Our 10-year national economic transformation strategy will use the expertise of businesses, unions and economists to develop an action plan and targeted projects to transform our economy and achieve net zero.”