Stick or twist: will the tech industry thrive in an independent Scotland?

Essentially, the UK government is not only taking credit for Scotland's tech success but also positing that the industry will struggle without it. On the face of it, withdrawing research funding and infrastructure could leave Scotland vulnerable. But Scottish independence isn't about what the country has achieved, but what it could achieve.

I contacted the Scottish government for a rebuttal and it didn't mention anything about the benefits of Westminster funds, but rather the benefits of the future: "With the full powers of independence we can achieve higher levels of growth and job opportunities through a strong external focus on competing in the global economy, promoting areas of comparative advantage to develop a distinctive economy emphasising innovation, technology and manufacturing."

It continued: "We are already taking steps to improve industry and academic links by establishing Innovation Scotland as well as a network of Innovation Centres, where partners from across Scotland are coming together to provide targeted support for business and academic engagement, and to develop solutions to demand-led industry problems."

Clearly, the Scottish government is looking at Ireland and its booming tech industry that has flourished in an environment which is built around small businesses and technology. It's rolling the dice.

This optimism and the prospect of what could potentially be is what seems to excite the companies that did want to go on record. Colin Hewitt, CEO and founder of Scottish startup CodeBase, explained how mimicking Ireland's success is an intelligent thing to do.

Hewitt said: "Personally, I'm comfortable with risks, I don't think an independent Scotland would necessarily hurt the tech scene. It could potentially really help it. I think a lot about Ireland, and how the tech scene is thriving there. I wonder if we'd be able to make things more attractive in terms of working visas for developers, and lower corporation tax.

"Ultimately though, what we need are the universities to continue to raise their game, to create a great environment for startups and encourage a culture of mentoring and knowledge sharing which is starting to happen with initiatives like CodeBase.

"I really believe that Scotland is currently on course for a great startup culture regardless of the vote. We live in a London-centric island when it comes to a lot of things, and it would be great to see more hubs that are holding their own, not just in Scotland, but across the rest of the UK. One thing that I'm sure of is that whatever happens, we need to build strong links with the rest of the UK."

Starting again

Hewitt's last point about London basking in most of the UK government's praise seems particularly poignant, and a view that is shared with just about every tech cluster and company outside of the capital that I've spoken to.

Scotland has a chance to distance itself from the London-centric policies and start from scratch with its own funding schemes, tax rules and regulatory framework. It can create an environment for the tech scene that's based around its current needs, rather than trying to make existing legislation work in its favour.

On the other hand an independent Scotland could see a brain drain, or even stop young British entrepreneurs from moving to another country to start up their business. At this stage all we have is "what ifs" and uncertainty, so Scots will have to look towards their hearts rather than their heads for an answer.

How successful will an independent Scottish tech industry be? It all comes down to how much the Scots like to roll the dice.