People: Swinney backs academic and private sector

INNOVATION and collaboration were the buzzwords as Deputy First Minister John Swinney addressed Informatics Ventures’ latest event at Edinburgh’s School of Informatics last week.
Gordon Dewar (right) has won the director of the year gong. Picture: Neil HannaGordon Dewar (right) has won the director of the year gong. Picture: Neil Hanna
Gordon Dewar (right) has won the director of the year gong. Picture: Neil Hanna

With an audience including Skyscanner chief executive Gareth Williams and Edinburgh University principal and vice-chancellor Timothy O’Shea, Swinney praised the strong links between Scotland’s academic and private sectors and said he wants the nation to build on its innovative past to become one of the world’s entrepreneurial hotspots.

He said: “As highlighted by Scotland Can Do, the Scottish Government has a clear and unconditional commitment to supporting all of our people to unleash their full entrepreneurial and innovative potential.

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“We are investing in the development and application of research, innovation and technology and supporting the development of a more entrepreneurial society – all crucial in shaping Scotland’s future and helping to create sustainable economic growth.

“The creation of eight innovations centres around the country will help boost the Scottish start-up sector in the coming years.”

Auld Alliance alive and well

THE Frenchman who heads the renewables arm of EDF Energy proved that the Auld Alliance is alive and well last week.

Christian Egal delivered the welcoming address at Scottish Renewables’ annual conference dinner in Edinburgh’s spectacular Mansfield Traquair – a church-turned-corporate/wedding venue which is frequently compared to the Sistine Chapel.

Having a gentle dig at our recent woeful run in the Six Nations rugby tournament, which saw the national side collect the wooden spoon, Egal said EDF was happy to continue sponsoring the dinner event “until Scotland wins the Six Nations”.

Fans of the oval ball sport will be hoping he doesn’t have to dig his hand into his pocket for too much longer.

Party contest tees off

GOLF was the sporting theme at property consultancy JLL’s Edinburgh drinks party, held within Harvey Nichols’ Forth Floor restaurant.

Despite the chill of a late winter/early spring evening, many of the guests ventured out onto the store’s top-floor balcony to partake in a putting tournament.

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Our Business Desk representative, and fervent trams critic, was tempted to drive his ball at one of the said light-rail vehicles making its way along St Andrew Square but resisted, managing to drive home a winner on his third attempt at the hole.

Alas, many others were more successful with their three goes. Alasdair Humphery, the big cheese at JLL’s Scottish operations, says the putting competition had clearly “showcased the competitive element in the room”, with 17 guests qualifying for the top prize.

JLL receptionist Ruth Rae drew the winning name out of a hat on Wednesday and so a hearty congratulations must go to Mark Hunter of Hunter Real Estate Investment who bags the magnum of champagne.

High-flyers collect awards

PLAUDITS all round as Scotland’s highest-flying bosses picked up their gongs at the IoD Scotland Director of the Year Awards, held in Glasgow on Thursday evening.

Flying higher than any of his peers was Gordon Dewar, the top man at Edinburgh Airport, who scooped director of the year for businesses with a turnover of more than £35 million. Ronnie Wayte, chief executive of funeral plan provider Golden Charter, bagged the prize in the under-£35m category.

Ian McKay, chairman of the Institute of Directors in Scotland, praised the pair, saying: “Ronnie’s leadership of funeral plan provider Golden Charter has produced an excellent solid performance over a prolonged period. The company has grown organically through diversification, a good team and board expertise.

“Gordon’s motivational leadership, strong focus on customer service, improved infrastructure and the introduction of new routes has enhanced the attractiveness of Edinburgh Airport, making it a valuable asset for Edinburgh, and indeed Scotland.”

All of the Scottish category winners from the night will have a shot at the UK Director of the Year Awards, which takes place in London, in November. Best of luck.