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Dr Steve Ewing, Operations Director at Informatics Ventures

Great Expectations

I didn’t really have many, maybe any, expectations when Russell Dalgleish and Christine Esson approached me many months ago to present to the Scottish Business Network sometime much later this year. Well, the weeks and months have flown by since then and that ‘much later this year’ came around a week or so ago on a chilly London evening when I was given a fantastic opportunity to address a full room in the splendid Adam and Company offices in SW1.

First up of three speakers, I spoke about the research firepower in University of Edinburgh School of Informatics - the largest in Europe and with the most research power in the UK.

It was against this backdrop that Informatics Ventures was established in 2008 to connect, educate and support globally ambitious technology entrepreneurs and companies headquartered in Scotland. Thanks to our efforts and those now several others who support the Scottish innovation ecosystem, research and entrepreneurship walk hand in hand in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and in many other cities across Scotland.

Perhaps most striking, given the questioning at the end of my talk and during the networking that followed, there was a great deal of interest generated from me quoting from the Spinouts UK Project, a listing of spinouts and start-ups from universities and HEIs across the UK, produced by Young Company Finance. Specifically that, since 2000, companies emerging from the University of Edinburgh reached 272, dramatically ahead of Cambridge (178), Oxford (146), or even London’s Imperial College (120) and UCL (85) combined!

And, of course, I couldn’t not talk about Engage Invest Exploit (EIE) Scotland, Informatics Ventures flagship technology investor showcase, which connects Scotland’s most exciting and innovative young companies with investors from all over the world and prepares them for the process of securing investment.

EIE is now Scotland's most highly regarded technology investor showcase and the largest event of its kind outside London.

Over the years we’ve showcased companies like: at the very first EIE in 2008, HubDub, which later became FanDuel, now the world’s largest one-day fantasy sports operator; Kotikan which, until the point of its acquisition by FanDuel this year, was the largest independent mobile apps developer in Scotland and the architects of the Skyscanner app; Mallzee, the UK’s top non-retailer shopping app; Two Big Ears, a company developing immersive audio for VR and AR and recently acquired by Facebook for an undisclosed sum.

Such has been its success that EIE has now established a footprint in London (EIE London is each November) and EIE Hong Kong and Shenzhen (mid-October 2016 so keep your eye on 2017!)

Now approaching its tenth year, Informatics Ventures has delivered >40,000 hours of practitioner-led executive education, supported close to 800 enterprises and companies pitching at EIE Scotland have raised >£350 million in seed and later round funding. We are active participants in the Scottish entrepreneur ecosystem with established and active relationships with the likes of Converge Challenge, Scottish EDGE, the Scottish Business Network and the London Stock Exchange.

As I sat and listened to the other presenters and to Christine as she hosted the event I couldn’t help feeling strongly that the Scottish Business Network, at just over a year old still in relative infancy, has really begun to tap into something and has at least that decade long longevity in it. The discussion and engagement in the room, and in the networking after, was energised, engaged and positive and I now have great expectations that it can and will grow considerably from here. I do hope I get invited back to speak at some point in the future but I’ll certainly be back just to attend and we’ll be recommending the Scottish Business Network to our network as they seek to grow their London network and presence. It’s as simple as this - check out the LinkedIn group and take it from there.

See the original blog post on Linkedin here.

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