We caught up with Neil Logan, CEO of Incremental Group after he participated in the Scottish delegation to visit the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

I recently had the privilege of being asked by the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) to join a delegation from Scotland to meet with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). The objective was to participate in a joint forum exploring opportunities for strengthening the links between both countries.

CAS is the world’s largest research organisation, with over 60,000 researchers working across more than 100 different institutes and the scale of investment is beyond anything you can see anywhere else in the world. The visit itself took place in China’s capital, Beijing. We travelled there from Glasgow via Dubai on a journey that took almost 26 hours’ door to door.

Beijing itself, is just huge. I have been lucky enough to visit many major cities across the world including both New York and Tokyo and neither of these ”megacities” come close to the sense of scale you get from Beijing.  Indeed, to give some sort of context to that, the city of Tokyo has population of around 13m, Beijing 21m… London isn’t even 10m!  It is a buzzing city, where traffic is chaotic at best, with travel times in the city frankly enough to make a grown man cry at the prospect of being in a taxi. Unfortunately, public transportation isn’t quite what you would hope for such a populous city but things are moving fast.

As part of the trip we were treated to a number of banquets where our Chinese hosts did their best to shock us with the various animals and parts of animals they were prepared to eat. I will spare the gory detail but suffice to say, Sweet and Sour Prawn this was not! We were also taken on a site seeing tour of the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall measured in excess of 5000 miles which is roughly the same distance from Glasgow to Beijing! Sightseeing aside though, the purpose of the forum was to discuss how China and Scotland could forge closer links in the areas of Oil and Gas and Big Data. Here the forum was a fantastic success and I am pleased to say that following on from our work over the week CAS is keen to make a number of key and substantial financial investments here in Scotland.

It was a wonderful experience to be part of such a forum and I was delighted to see how welcoming our Chinese hosts were. Scotland’s reputation as a global leader in academic research is second to none and to be able to work with an organisation as large and ambitious as CAS was something very special.  As digital technology helps our world become smaller so I believe it is important for nations like our own to be bold on the world stage.  From what I have seen, we have much to offer and even more to gain.


The Scottish RSE delegation with the CAS Representatives