People: The business diary

The Duke of York, Sir Tom Hunter, FanDuel, Skyscanner, Scottish Equity Partners and CodeBase were just a few of the names that assembled at Dynamic Earth then Holyroodhouse Palace on Wednesday for Pitch@Palace, organised by Informatics Ventures and the Duke of York’s team to offer three places on an accelerator programme in London in November.
Amanda Hamilton at Wednesday's Pitch@Palace eventAmanda Hamilton at Wednesday's Pitch@Palace event
Amanda Hamilton at Wednesday's Pitch@Palace event

Scottish TV personality and nutritionist, Amanda Hamilton of Healthy Nibbles was one of the 20 companies pitching for the places at St James’ Palace later in the year, although the winning spots went to Lupo, Topolytics and Spot Sensors.

Hunter’s keynote speech was a rousing one with the Ayrshire-born entrepreneur recalling his fundraising visit to Silicon Valley in recent weeks and noting that the “secret sauce” for Scotland to scale its startups combines talent, capital, ambition and role models to inspire the following generations.

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Champagne and canapés were then served at the palace, where it did not go unnoticed that several leading lights of Scotland’s business scene – including a certain senior Skyscanner executive – were serving as High Constables of Holyroodhouse and ceremonial guards for the evening.

Raising a glass to Scotland

Politicians, drink industry representatives and the press were mixing it at the Scottish Craft Distillers Association’s (SCDA) parliamentary event on Tuesday evening.

The soiree, hosted by Jean Urquhart MSP, provided a showcase for products from 11 distilleries.

A recently formed trading arm of the association, Scottish Craft Distillers, has already had some success landing an order from Belgium, while a trip to a major trade show in Dubai has seen distributors looking to stock product from SCDA members.

Urquhart, MSP for Highlands & Islands, heaped praise on what she described as a “niche, but sustainable market” for Scottish craft gins, rums, vodka and whisky.

She told those gathered at the Scottish Parliament building: “Speaking as someone who, this job apart, has spent most of my working life as a licensee, it is a delight to know that we have so many new drinks to offer and all of them ‘Made in Scotland’.

“But not just that, these drinks are the real deal. Extremely good quality and easy for every barperson in the land to say ‘have you tried this’, confident that they will have a very happy customer.”

We’ll raise a glass to that.

Brewing up more success

On the subject of booze… three cheers for Gerald Michaluk, the colourful MD of the award-winning Arran Brewery, who has picked up yet another gong.

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The brewery’s Sleeping Warrior barley wine has scooped the title of the “UK’s best barley wine” in the 2015 World Beer Awards.

Barley wine, despite its name, is a style of strong beer dating back to the 18th century when during the frequent wars with France patriots drank ale rather than wine. The ale could be as strong as wine.

Michaluk tells us: “We have been doing rather well with awards, our beers winning at least one award every year, except one, since 2000. These are very busy but exciting times at the brewery as we move into a major expansion phase of its development”.

Game on for Sammi

Law firm Harper Macleod has extended its support for Scots wheelchair racer Samantha “Sammi” Kinghorn as she aims for world championship and paralympic success.

The firm announced the news at the official launch of its new Edinburgh office – opened by minister for community safety and legal affairs, Paul Wheelhouse MSP.

Sammi, Harper Macleod’s athlete ambassador since 2013, said: “Though I hoped to be selected for Doha, I can still hardly believe that I’ve made the team and will have the chance to experience the World Championships. I’m extremely thankful for all the support I have been given and I really feel part of the Harper Macleod family after all we’ve experienced together.”