Richard Branson likely to be Scottish awards bound

Sir Richard Branson is likely to be Scottish awards bound in 2014. Picture: Julie Bull
Sir Richard Branson is likely to be Scottish awards bound in 2014. Picture: Julie Bull
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AFTER former US president Bill Clinton addressed the Scottish Business Awards in the summer, it was clearly a challenge to find someone of similar stature for next year’s gig. The People column can exclusively reveal that the organisers have hired another president.

The guest speaker in May will be Sir Richard Branson, founder, chairman, chief executive and president of Virgin Group.

Among the candidates already nominated for next year’s prizes is the not-for-profit organisation Adopt an Intern, which places graduates in paid internships. It is among the contenders for the Growth Strategy of the Year prize, while its tenacious chief executive, Joy Lewis, is in the running for the Female Entrepreneur of the Year title. Lewis, who worked in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, hopes to hit her target of putting 500 graduates into companies this year.

‘Dating’ agency

LOVE was in the air at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh when Scottish Business Insider editor Alasdair Northrop opened the Interface Excellence Awards. He described Interface as the “dating agency” that brings together small businesses and universities.

“They’re looking for marriages – or perhaps these days I should say partnerships,” joked Northrop.

During the panel discussion, Scotland Food & Drink trade body chief executive James Withers preferred the term “translator” for Interface.

But the appropriately-named Ashley Baker, head of research and development at food ingredients maker Macphie of Glenbervie, stuck with the “dating” terminology when he collected an award for his “outstanding contribution to knowledge exchange”.

“We had to kiss a few frogs before we got our universities partnerships right,” he said.

From our reporker

THE best restaurateurs have long taken a keen interest in the provenance of their ingredients, but Darren Blackburn and Richard McLelland have gone a step further – and bought their own pig.

The pair, who run The Vintage bar and restaurant in Leith, bought a Tamworth pig called “Tammy” so that they can learn more about where their meat comes from.

Now the owners – who specialise in “charcuterie” such as hams, patés and sausages – plan to run a series of beer and food matching events in December so they can share their knowledge with their customers. They are even arranging trips to Peelham Farm in the Borders so their diners can get to know Tammy – rather than eating it.

Raising a glass

The Scottish Parliament is built on the site of the former Younger’s brewery, so it was perhaps fitting that Ellon-based beer maker BrewDog was in attendance last week for the economy committee’s probe into access to finance.

Nothing stronger than water seemed to be on offer, but the presence of the “punk” brewer’s finance director, Neil Simpson, appeared to go to the heads of some committee members.

Chic Brodie told Simpson that MSPs were not allowed to applaud in the committee room “but you deserve great applause”, while fellow SNP member Marco Biagi said: “It is hard to imagine another BrewDog coming along and making the same waves that you have made.”

Simpson admitted that the micro-brewer “would not have reached half of what we reached without social media”, and likened the 12,000 fans who have bought shares in the firm to “sales reps on the road”.