People: Saxby talks twitching and tech

Sir Robin Saxby told his audience that not all technology start-ups are created south of the Border
Sir Robin Saxby told his audience that not all technology start-ups are created south of the Border
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ARM Holdings founder Sir Robin Saxby was at Edinburgh University’s School of Informatics on Tuesday night to kick off Informatics Ventures’ autumn series of talks, (K)Nights at the Round Table.

Founded in a Cambridge pub in 1990 and backed by Apple in the early days, Arm designs smartphone and tablet chips for the likes of Apple and Samsung.

An old friend of Informatics Ventures director Dr Colin Adams, Saxby poured cold water on the myth that tech start-ups should have their beginnings in south-east England and paid tribute to Scots-born Arm co-founder Jamie Urquhart, who “didn’t let us spend money we didn’t have”.

Now a private investor and keen twitcher, Saxby said he would be spending the day after his round-table talk bird-watching in and around Edinburgh.

Sir Bill Gammell, the founder and former chairman of Edinburgh-based oil explorer Cairn Energy, has been lined up to speak at the next Informatics Ventures event at the end of next month.

Big name helps small firms

Gordon Drummond, pictured right, has been at the helm of Harvey Nichols’ flagship branch in Edinburgh for more than a decade and is now aiming to play his part in helping smaller retailers up their game.

The upmarket department store has teamed up with Edinburgh City Council and the Federation of Small Businesses to run two free workshops next month, where Harvey Nichols staff will show how social media and window dressing can help firms boost their footfall, sales and profit margins.

Drummond said: “A strong, vibrant small business sector is a vital part of a mix which encourages people to visit and shop.

“As a major retailer with a long-term commitment to developing the city’s economy, I’m very happy that we can play a part in helping to support smaller businesses.”

Dovecot seeks apprentices

It’s not just Lord Sugar who is on the look-out for his next hire. Edinburgh’s Dovecot Studios is searching for an apprentice with a very particular skill set.

Bosses have been interviewing suitable candidates as part of a business plan to appoint three new apprentices over the next three years, continuing a 100-year-old tradition of collaboration with contemporary artists and designers.

When the search is concluded, the winning apprentice will learn from master weavers at the tapestry studios now housed in a converted Victorian swimming baths building on the city’s Infirmary Street. The apprenticeship scheme has evolved from seven years of hard graft to a modern-day equivalent three-year programme of hands-on learning.

Dovecot director David Weir said: “Our original weavers came to us in 1912 and their ethos of the artist craftsman is as relevant in today’s fast-paced technological world as it was at the beginning of the last century.”

ProQuip wins at Ryder Cup

The weekend’s golfing extravaganza at Gleneagles proved to be a valuable showcase for ProQuip Golf, the Langholm-based maker of waterproofs that has supplied more Ryder Cup captains than any other brand.

Team Europe leader Paul McGinley hand-picked the firm’s apparel this year and general manager Russell Brooks said: “As a small Scottish company competing against huge global sports manufacturers, this is hugely satisfying to know we are trusted by the elite of European golf.”