Fast-growing tech firms bemoan lack of funding

Delegates at last year's EIE event in Edinburgh. Picture: Lesley Martin
Delegates at last year's EIE event in Edinburgh. Picture: Lesley Martin
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Access to finance is the biggest barrier to growth for Scottish technology start-ups and scale-ups, according to a new survey.

The study of 100 “data-driven” start-ups and scale-ups, undertaken ahead of this year’s Engage Invest Exploit (EIE) by the event’s organiser Informatics Ventures and conference sponsor TalentSpark, found that some 40 per cent of firms are targeting the US market for growth but have found access to finance the greatest barrier to their ambitious plans.

The report also reveals that 52 per cent of respondents are targeting angel investment to fund their growth which is expected to fuel job creation across Scotland’s tech sector.

EIE is expected to attract some 1,000 delegates to Edinburgh when it takes place at the city’s historic McEwan Hall on 24 April.

Steve Ewing, director of operations at Informatics Ventures and EIE, said: “Scotland boasts a hotbed of tech and data talent. The combination of academic excellence in data science, a vibrant start-up community, excellent government support and additional expertise in areas like biosciences, financial services and marketing analytics creates an ideal environment for data-driven businesses to succeed.

“The aspirations to establish Edinburgh as the data capital of Europe and a renewed focus on entrepreneurship ensures Edinburgh remains synonymous with company creation and quality deal flow for investors.

“The companies at this year’s EIE range from very early stage to five-plus years, and each of them will use the opportunity to pitch to a panel of global investors; many have ambitions of a level that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.”

Guy Martin, founding director of Eden Scott, the firm behind TalentSpark, said: “Scotland is home to a wealth of talent and following outcomes from the likes of Skyscanner, FanDuel and FreeAgent, we’re starting to see that talent recycled through the ecosystem.

“The experience of people who’ve been there and done it is invaluable in shaping the growth businesses and entrepreneurial leaders of tomorrow.

“Attracting the right investment, developing a customer base and building the relevant skills remain high on the list of priorities for our entrepreneurs. The grass might sometimes seem greener elsewhere, but all things considered, the general feeling is that Scotland remains to be one of the best places to start up and grow new companies.”