Fair fa’ to Scotland’s honest face

By Steve Ewing

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I was delighted and honoured to be invited to deliver the Address to a Haggis at the Lord Mayor of London’s first ever Burns Supper in Mansion House in London last night, in the presence of an array of dignitaries, in honour of The Right Honourable Nicola Sturgeon, MSP First Minister of Scotland.

Speaking to an audience which included UK and Scottish government, investors, business people and International guests, Scotland’s First Minister highlighted a list of Scottish innovations including penicillin, the telephone, the television, the PIN number…and the Bank of England. More critically, she highlighted Scotland’s world class universities and colleges, in particular our strengths in data and informatics, the First Minister emphasised the findings of the recent Tech Nation report, which cited Edinburgh as the best location in the UK for establishing a technology company.

It was a theme which continued to thread through today’s launch of the ELITE Scotland programme at the London Stock Exchange. ELITE is London Stock Exchanges’ global initiative for ambitious fast-growing private companies; providing education, business support and mentoring, networking, access to a community of Scottish and global investors and ELITE’s own funding platform.


ELITE Scotland, launched in collaboration with Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, builds up on a vibrant Scottish entrepreneurial community and a strong contingent of Scottish companies in the global ELITE community, which has included M Squared Lasers and Skyscanner.

Informatics Ventures, in partnership with TalentSpark, powered by Eden Scott, has a long standing relationship with the London Stock Exchange, encouraging Scottish businesses to be ambitious in their growth aspirations, by co-hosting Scottish events to help promote a greater understanding of the ELITE programme and AIM, the world’s leading growth market.

Located in the Bayes Centre, the University of Edinburgh’s data-driven innovation hub for Science & Engineering, Informatics Ventures is an entrepreneur development programme, supported by Scottish Enterprise, the University of Edinburgh and its School of Informatics; at the heart of the entrepreneurial tech community and a core component of the Data Driven Innovation Programme.

The ten year Data-Driven Innovation initiative is central to the £1B Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal and aims to increase the contribution of university research and graduate skills to the region’s economy; launching more spinouts and start-ups, attracting established businesses, and driving public and private sector investment – a reflection of the growing importance of data in economic growth, social change, and public services. Those of us who live and work in Scotland are well aware that Edinburgh is now the UK’s largest hub for data centric start-ups and spin out companies outside of London. In the past year alone the number of fintech companies has grown three fold.

Through practitioner-led entrepreneurship, education and ecosystem networking, Informatics Ventures supported by a number of commercial sponsors and partners, prepares technology entrepreneurs with the skills and experience to scale their business and take it to a global stage.

Engage Invest Exploit (EIE) is the epicentre of the Informatics Ventures Programme, attracting international investors to the heart of the aspirational Data Capital of Europe and connecting them with exciting and innovative data based start-ups. Since its inception in 2008, companies who have participated in EIE have gone on to raise in excess of £650 million, from seed through Series A and later stage funding.

On 24th April the latest cohort of data-driven technology companies will take to the stage of Edinburgh’s McEwan Hall to pitch their ideas to an investor audience and once again highlight Scotland’s capabilities in driving the data-driven revolution. Check out a preview here. Can you afford to miss it? The advanced saver discount ticket applies until 31st March.

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© Clive.Totman