Taking the Entrepreneurship Show on the Road

By Karen Wood MBA, Director of Enterprise

ELITE LondonIn early December, when a golden opportunity arose to support The First Minister of Scotland, The Rt. Hon. Nicola Sturgeon MSP, at The Market Open Ceremony and Scottish Investment Seminar at The London Stock Exchange on 28th January, our Informatics Ventures (IV) team leapt at the chance, in the pioneering spirit of Carpe Diem!

A call to action went out from our hotline in our new home, The Bayes Centre, to our Wayra Accelerator Partnership and our Engage Invest Exploit EIE company cohort. Immediately we had an excellent number of world class Data Driven Innovation entrepreneurs, ready to make the journey to the Big Smoke, to fly the flag for Scotland and for Edinburgh, the aspirational and fast becoming Data Capital of Europe.

There followed many hours of excited liaison with our Scottish Enterprise colleagues in Edinburgh, at Scotland House in London, as well as our Scottish Investment Bank and Scottish Development International colleagues in Glasgow, to ensure all business and commercial opportunities would be maximised. We were focused on capturing the priorities of The Data Driven Innovation Programme at the heart of The Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal. Our London networks buzzed with excitement at the prospect of the IV team landing in The City, appointments were scheduled, introductions were made and briefings were prepared.

With some last-minute serendipitous diary planning, we were absolutely delighted when our Principal, Professor Peter Mathieson, confirmed that he too would be able to join us on this inspirational adventure. We were poised and ready to do business in the heart of The City of London.

Just as we thought final preparations had been made, brief mention was made by our hosts of The Lord Mayor of London’s inaugural Burns Supper at Mansion House, at which The First Minister of Scotland would deliver the keynote speech to an audience of 240 guests, representing the financial and business communities, government and overseas diplomats, the night before The London Stock Exchange event. Seizing another opportunity, an offer, which was quite simply too good to refuse, was put on the negotiating table ~ our very own Director of Operations, Dr Steve Ewing, could deliver The Address to the Haggis! Our London hosts leapt at the chance and there followed a further flurry of activity, as Highland Dress was procured, a sgian-dubh was carefully packed and theatrical rehearsals began.

As the train pulled out of Waverley Station on a particularly icy Monday morning, phone calls were being made, tweets were being posted and emails were flying thick and fast. No stone was left unturned. The momentum was building.

Landing in London, the IV team made our way to the offices of our Gold Sponsor, Cazenove Capital, at their Shroders offices at 1 London Wall Place, where historic London looks the financial future in the eye. Business cards, ideas and hot-off-the-press information were exchanged, opportunities were explored, invitations were extended and some greatly appreciated hot coffee was enjoyed. In perfect time for our departure, the famous London skyline turned pink, silhouetting Sir Christopher Wren’s magnificent St Paul’s Cathedral to perfection.

Undeterred by the icy temperatures outside, we made our way through The City of London to The Bank of England, The Royal Exchange and, of course, Mansion House, where final preparations and rehearsals were well underway, safely guarded behind closed doors. The scene was set to take the financial community by storm, to go above and beyond the call of duty, and ensure that each and every guest was introduced to the skill and dexterity of Informatics Ventures. Marketing at its very best ~ inspiring, innovative, alive and fun. That night, the audience’s enthusiastic round of applause was proof of the pudding that an excellent performance had been delivered with aplomb.

Up sharp the following morning, the excitement of The London Stock Exchange now awaited us. Our company cohort mingled and networked expertly with a room packed full of investors, advisers and government officials. Just before 0800 we were efficiently ushered to take our place in the central atrium, for the Market Open Ceremony to begin. With guests gathered round tightly, theatrical music played, lights and camera lenses flashed, the momentum built and the countdown began, before finally The First Minister expertly and timeously pressed the digital button and the Global Markets were declared open for trading.

Now it was time for the ELITE Scotland Launch and Scottish Investment Seminar, hosted by The London Stock Exchange Group. We listened intently to speeches by The Rt. Hon. Nicola Sturgeon MSP, David Schwimmer CEO London Stock Exchange Group, Umerah Akram, Head of ELITE and Global Business Development LSEG, Bod Buckby Head of UK Primary Markets North LSEG, Sarah Hardy Chief Investment Officer Archangel Investors, Dr Graeme Malcolm OBE CEO and Founder M Squared Lasers, Gordon McArthur CEO and Founder Beeks Financial Cloud, Morag MacFarlane CEO and Founder Tissue Solutions Ltd, Liam McGivern Investment Director Graphite Capital, Jan Robertson Head of Investment Management Scottish Investment Bank and finally, Kerry Sharp Director Scottish Investment Bank. There was just time for a lively Q&A, before a well-deserved round of applause for the ELITE companies present.

Swiftly taking in the beauty of Paternoster Square, we then sprinted off to our next cocktail of appointments, criss-crossing London to, amongst others, a rendezvous with a fellow University of Edinburgh MBA alumnus, who regaled us inter alia with fascinating family tales of Professor R.V. Jones, whilst making introductions to some of the finest in the Venture Technology industry, to Canada House, to Cvent and to STV. With an eye on the ticking clock, we made our way back across London, past The Crick Institute and St Pancras Station, to our awaiting Intercity train back to Edinburgh.

With our pockets full of newly acquired business cards and buoyed by enthusiasm, ideas and inspiration, we threw our bags into the luggage rack, flopped down in our seats and breathed a sigh of relief ~ time for some well-earned R&R on the journey back to Edinburgh for The University of Edinburgh and Informatics Ventures London Team, before starting over again in the morning on the final countdown to EIE19 on 24th April. If you haven’t already, make sure you buy your tickets fast ~ after our London performance, demand is expected to hit an all-time high!