Tech experts boost Scottish entrepreneurship at EIE22 - Nick Freer
Scotland’s Chief Entrepreneur Mark Logan revealed that the startups invited into Scotland’s Tech Scaler network will have access to grant funding when they start joining one of the seven hubs across the country later this year. In terms of other benefits, Logan believes it will be easier for investors to connect with the nation’s startup talent because of Tech Scaler’s inherent one-stop shop proposition.
On the subject of entrepreneurship, Logan said entrepreneurial potential is latent in all of us, but we need to normalise entrepreneurship on a societal level and throughout the education system. Scotland’s universities are world-class at teaching and research, Logan continued, but they need to be better at entrepreneurship to “complete the triangle”.
In response to a question on securing more international investment for startups based here, Scotland’s Chief Entrepreneur said this challenge was being addressed at government level, a point reiterated by recently appointed CEO of Scottish Enterprise, Adrian Gillespie, who spoke after Logan. Gillespie went on to pick out EIE alumni companies that have helped to move the dial when it comes to innovation - including thermal storage specialist Sunamp, and space technology rising star Krucial, a company the new Scottish Enterprise CEO visited last week.
When it comes to an entrepreneurial journey, incoming president of techUK Sheila Lavell CBE’s story was an eye-opener. Starting her career as a police officer in Glasgow, Flavell recounted to conference, she went onto become an air stewardess in the Middle East before the Gulf War clipped her wings and she returned to the UK, where she started a business that is now valued at over £1 billion as a constituent of the FTSE 250 on the London Stock Exchange.
Supporting women in tech has been one of Flavell’s main crusades, and it was illuminating to hear from entrepreneur and investor Ana Stewart, chair of the Scottish Government-commissioned Women in Enterprise Review, or Stewart Review, co-authored with Mark Logan, reiterating her belief that Scotland can bring about transformative change when it comes to moving the dial on gender imbalance.A year on from COP26 in Glasgow, CEO of The Earthshot Prize, Hannah Jones expanded on how Earthshot searches the world for the most innovative solutions to the climate emergency, and how the spark for the foundation is based on President John F Kennedy’s famous moonshot speech at Rice University in 1962.One of the climate tech companies pitching at EIE22 that caught my eye was Robotics Cats, with CEO and founder Andre Cheung outlining how his team are aiming to reduce wildfires via AI-enabled detection software. Another was Ocean Biofuels, a startup seeking £4 million of investment to develop a fleet of autonomous vessels powered by green hydrogen and solar to harvest sea kelp for a variety of applications with sustainability at their core.Healthcare startups were also prominent at EIE22, and I got a kick out of seeing my youngest brother, Matthew Freer, a consultant anaesthetist, present his company Infix Support, a venture he set up three years ago to improve operating theatre efficiencies in the NHS.
Nick Freer is the founding director of corporate communications agency the Freer Consultancy
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