18 Jul 2018

Zonal supports Scotland’s next generation techies with Digital Xtra Fund

Leading Scottish technology firm, Zonal, has teamed up with Digital Xtra Fund to help fund technology initiatives for young people across Scotland.

The funding will help guarantee that even more young people have access to digitally creative activities and give them a better understanding of the future career opportunities digital skills provide, regardless of their gender, background, or where they live.

ZonalEdinburgh based Zonal was recently voted Family Business of the Year 2018 and for almost 40 years has been designing and delivering technology solutions for the hospitality sector, including its market leading EPoS system, Aztec. Today, it employs around 550 people with over 200 located at its Tanfield headquarters.

Head of Human Resources, Catriona Dick, said: “Our chief executive’s father, Ralph McLean, devised the UK’s first EPoS solution for his hotel in order to keep track of sales and stock. Fast forward 39 years and Zonal is number one across the UK when it comes to providing the hospitality sector with technology innovations and we are keen to make sure the next generation have the skillset in place to keep us in pole position.

“We have been impressed by the work of Digital Xtra Fund and are delighted to play our part in supporting more young people as they discover the fantastic range of job opportunities open to them in the blossoming world of digital technology.”

The support from Zonal will form part of the Fund’s annual grant awards for high-quality digital skills initiatives in Scotland and will include visits to the firm’s HQ with mentoring support for students seeking a career in technology.

Kraig Brown, Partnerships & Development Manager, Digital Xtra Fund said: “We are very excited to welcome Zonal as a Partner of Digital Xtra Fund. Zonal is a highly successful family owned technology company and very proud of its Scottish heritage. The company is a great innovator and shares our commitment to bridge the digital skills gap through partnership and collaboration. We look forward to working with the team at Zonal to help inspire more young people across Scotland.”

Photo by Rory SempleDigital Xtra Fund was originally established in 2016 and funded through the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership whose partners included both public sector and industry representatives. In March 2017, Digital Xtra Fund became an independent charity to enable it to work with a wider range of partners. In its first year as a charity, the Fund supported 11 fun and engaging digital skills initiatives across Scotland ranging from coding clubs in rural areas to designing apps and technology for social good.

Zonal is the leading provider of integrated hospitality management solutions to over 16,000 leisure and hospitality businesses across the UK. For nearly 40 years, the company has been working closely with clients to enhance the customer experience through market leading technology, experienced people and a partnership approach to business.


About Zonal:

Zonal began in 1979 when the McLean Family identified the need to monitor sales, stock, and wastage in their family hotel near Edinburgh when they noticed shortfalls in stock and takings. Zonal founder, the late Ralph McLean, invented a solution to manage and control operations and the first EPoS system was created.  After being adopted by a number of regional breweries and pub groups, the family hotel was sold to grow the business from their offices on Forth Street in Edinburgh. The Forth Street site remained the company’s head office until 2014 when it moved to state of the art premises at Tanfield.

Zonal has developed and evolved from a small Scottish business to a company that employs over 450 people whilst still maintaining its proud Scottish heritage. Today, Zonal solutions are used daily in over 15,000 leisure and hospitality businesses across the UK, ranging from restaurant and pub groups, night clubs to, garden centres.  The company’s full product suite of technology solutions enable Zonal to offer a fully integrated service to any hospitality business.


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10 Jul 2018

Baillie Gifford partners with Digital Xtra Fund to invest in digital skills across Scotland

Known for investing in digital tech companies from Silicon Valley and Shenzhen, Baillie Gifford is partnering with Digital Xtra Fund to invest in digital tech skills here in Scotland.

Digital Xtra Fund is delighted to announce a partnership with global Investment Managers, Baillie Gifford. Digital Xtra Fund is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) which supports extracurricular digital technology activities across Scotland, giving young people opportunity to learn advanced digital skills regardless of their gender, background, or where they live. Backed by businesses, organisations, and individuals with a common will to help young people succeed in a digital world, the Fund provides grant awards for activities which inspire, engage, and enable young people to be digitally innovative and creative, and helps them understand the variety of future career opportunities these skills will make available.

BG Partnership AnnouncementDigital Xtra Fund became a charity in March 2017 to enable it to work with a wide range of industry partners. Last year, the Fund awarded grant awards for 11 exciting, high-quality initiatives across Scotland such as Stirling High School’s Digital Learning Hub in partnership with CodeBase Stirling. The initiative saw pupils from SHS deliver a variety of Raspberry Pi based workshops to six primary schools in the area creating a sustainable ecosystem of young developers in Stirling.

Helping young people and the community is part of the culture at Baillie Gifford. For more than 100 years, it has been a feature of the Edinburgh community and has a long history of supporting initiatives which make positive differences in the areas of the arts, education, and sports. Baillie Gifford’s support for Digital Xtra Fund will extend their already considerable CSR programme and give more young people the skills needed to succeed in an increasingly digital world. Baillie Gifford recognises it is important to foster these digital skills as more and more companies look to recruit young digital talent and increase their diversity to grow and achieve success. Baillie Gifford’s successful track record of finding and investing in emerging and growing tech companies speaks to their ability to also recognise and support strong digital talent.

Mark Urquhart, Partner at Baillie Gifford, said: “As investors, we have long observed the powerful impact which technology can have in terms of changing lives and improving access to opportunities. We are happy to be able to support the exciting work of Digital Xtra Fund in trying to encourage similar outcomes in Scotland through wider use of technologies.”

Kraig Brown, Partnerships & Development Manager, Digital Xtra Fund, said: “Our partnership with Baillie Gifford marks a new chapter for Digital Xtra Fund; as a financial company, they are our first “non-tech” partner, however, through their work with some of the world’s most successful tech companies as well as their investment in their own digital infrastructure, they recognise the necessity for young people to learn high-level digital skills to succeed in any sector. Their support illustrates the important role digital technology plays across all parts of the Scottish economy and how Digital Xtra Fund is perfectly placed to be the de facto young people’s digital skills charity for all sectors.”


About Baillie Gifford:

Baillie Gifford is an investment management firm wholly owned by 44 partners, all of whom work within the firm. It was founded in Edinburgh in 1908 and still has its headquarters in the city today. As of 31 March 2018, Baillie Gifford has £177.6 billion under management and advice in specialist equity, fixed income and multi-asset portfolios for a global client base.

Whether through their financial or community investments, Baillie Gifford believes the best ideas spring from thinking about future possibilities, not short-term probabilities. They are committed to partnering with dynamic organisations who strive to make Scotland a better place to live, work and visit. https://www.bailliegifford.com

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04 Jul 2018

Inverness Science Festival: Community Coding


This year Digital Xtra Fund has introduced over 3,200 young people to digital technologies through supporting 11 high-quality initiatives across Scotland. Since January, we’ve highlighted each of these initiatives, taking a closer look at how they inspire, enable, and engage young people to be digitally innovative and creative, and give them a better understanding of the future career opportunities digital skills provide.


Community Coding in the Highlands

Our final blog looks at the Inverness Science Festival, delivered by the University of the Highlands and Islands. Through a broad programme of community and schools’ events, this project introduces young people to inspirational events and stimulating digital technology, giving them the chance to get hands on and excited about coding, no matter their location or economic background.

With a focus on remote and rural schools, this multi-faceted project trains teachers and volunteers to support science, technology, engineering, maths and digital extracurricular clubs (STEMD), provides equipment, administration and resources to coding clubs, creates a pool of trained mentors, and inspires people through lectures, workshops, and hands on events at their exciting annual Science Festival.

Inverness Science Festival 2Over 1,500 students from the Highlands took part in this year. Primary school pupils have had the opportunity to participate in digital-based workshops and presentations, learning about coding, computer game creation, and hardware and programming, giving them experience of digital signals, binary code, Light Bot, Scratch, Code Bugs, Spheros, and Ardunios. School teachers and S6 pupils have been given support and training to boost their knowledge and confidence, and will now host STEMD clubs for S1-S4 pupils. In addition, the Inverness Science Festival took place in May, offering digital-based interactive pop-up activities at their popular Family Events, alongside structured workshop sessions.

Giving young people access to and opportunity to get hands on with digital equipment and technology has been key across this project. Support from Digital Xtra Fund has allowed Inverness Science Festival to invest in digital equipment, including code-a-pillar, Spheros, micro:bits and Bit:bot robots, Raspberry Pi, Arduino rocket kits, and snap circuits. By offering this equipment and their expertise to schools, clubs and community groups, the Inverness Science Festival breaks down barriers caused by a lack of local equipment, knowledge, or funding. Support from Digital Xtra Fund will also help create a lasting legacy as the equipment will remain available long-term for local groups to borrow free of charge from the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Boy Assembling Robotic Kit In Bedroom

Evelyn Gray, STEM Administrator at the University of the Highlands and Islands said, “The team at Inverness Science Festival have loved being part of this year’s Digital Xtra Fund initiatives. The support has enabled us to successfully expand our current digital offering. Our regular workshops stimulate students’ interest in digital technologies while the availability of equipment that we can ‘loan out’ enables us to build upon this enthusiasm, allowing students to continue the learning journey at their own pace back at school.”

Digital Xtra Fund’s annual grant rounds, which support the Inverness Science Festival and many other inspirational projects, are made possible by the valued support of Scotland’s tech industry, supplying sponsorship, insight, and in-kind support that all go towards our goal of giving every young person in Scotland access to a digitally creative activity. Find out more about supporting Digital Xtra Fund and inspiring Scotland’s digital future.

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