Accountancy firm AAB offers Scots tech boost with support deals for major projects

Scottish accountancy and business services group Anderson Anderson & Brown (AAB) is ramping up the support it provides to high-growth tech ventures through a series of innovation hub and accelerator sponsorships.

The firm, which offers tech team support across its offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Leeds and London, has become official sponsor of Kilmarnock’s Halo project and the Filament Smart Things Accelerator Centre (STAC).

Halo is a £63 million brownfield urban regeneration project on a 23-acre site, formerly the home of Johnnie Walker’s whisky bottling operation.

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The Halo Enterprise and Innovation Centre, which is due to open its doors in January, will create an “industry leading” entrepreneurial accelerator for business growth, concentrating on the green economy. The project is also creating a cyber and digital training learning facility that will support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

(L to R) Gillian Rushton, business advisory senior manager at AAB; Paul Wilson, chief executive of STAC; Lisa Thomson, CEO of Purpose HR; Marie Macklin CBE, founder and executive chair of the Halo Urban Regeneration Company; Ian Marshall, head of tech strategy at AAB. Picture: Peter Devlin

AAB will be the sole accountancy and human resources partner for the initiative. The partnership will be focused primarily on the Halo “enterprise floor”, a space created for start-ups and SMEs, where AAB’s tech team will be providing advice to a community of growing businesses.

Meanwhile, Filament STAC is an internet-of-things accelerator programme dedicated to helping ambitious Scottish start-ups grow sustainably and become competitive in a global market.

The 18-month programme, which is based on successful formats in Canada, will be delivered by a team headed up by Filament STAC chief executive Paul Wilson and begins in Glasgow. The first cohort consists of ten companies.

AAB said its role would be to deliver finance-related coursework to the cohort companies during the STAC academic calendar, and also to provide “strategic and technical guidance” to the companies on a one-to-one basis.

Ian Marshall, head of tech strategy at AAB, said: “The obvious take-away from the past 19 months is that tech, no matter how you work or who you work for, has kept the economy going, and what’s exciting is so many of these innovative tech businesses are right on our doorstep.

“We have a fantastic tech ecosystem here in Scotland. Great universities producing talent, a mature investment culture and of course Scotland is a great place to live.

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“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Halo and Filament STAC to ensure high-growth businesses get the financial and people support they need.”

Marie Macklin, founder and executive chair of the Halo, said: “It’s an exciting time for the Halo Kilmarnock as we get set to open the doors to our Halo Enterprise and Innovation Centre in January 2022.

“The Halo is 13 years in the making and we’re really pleased to be welcoming AAB on our journey to establish the Halo at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution - digitalisation.”

In addition to the two new partnerships, the firm will be supporting the University of Edinburgh’s AI [artificial intelligence] Accelerator programme, assisting the businesses with workshops and tutorials.

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Earlier this month, AAB sealed what was billed as a merger with Leeds-based peer Sagars to expand its UK regional presence. The two firms are on track to deliver a combined £40m-plus revenue in the current financial year with a “clear strategy in place” to deliver £70m group revenue by 2026.

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