Fostering business links with an economic powerhouse - Nick Freer

It was good to get out with this newspaper’s business editor during the week. I don’t think we actually talked that much shop, with the main subject of conversation revolving around our favourite album cover artwork. For my two cents, Birth of Cool and Sketches of Spain, both by Miles Davis, have got to be in the runningnote-0.

One industry related thing we did discuss was the closure of Scottish Business Insider magazine. Thankfully, Insider’s online daily news site remains, although admittedly shorthanded with only one reporter, who doubles as the editor, captaining the ship.

Overall, we’re lucky to have such a strong corps of business reporters in Scotland, and ideally we would have an even greater critical mass, so let’s hope we don’t see too much more contraction.

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Munich calling

IBM's global Internet of Things headquarters in Munich, Germany.

It was good to meet another friend and contact, David Scrimgeour MBE, over on a business trip from Munich on Tuesday. David, a former Scottish Government investment representative to Germany who now resides there, has single-handedly driven business links between Bavaria and Scotland in recent times. Watch this space for a major renewables initiative David has helped broker, set to hit the headlines over the next couple of weeks.

From knowing David over the years, I’ve picked up on a few things, not least the strong levels of goodwill that exist in Bavaria towards Scotland. No surprise then that Scotland has something in the order of 17 towns and cities twinned with Bavarian counterparts, including Edinburgh, with Munich being the first city Scotland’s capital linked up with back in 1954.

Bavaria is an economic powerhouse – just think of BMW and Siemens, only two of the mega corporates headquartered there – and surely Scotland needs to foster this international relationship with even greater attention, particularly when you consider that in the backdrop German exports to the UK have dropped by around 25 per cent since Brexit.

Food for thought the next time you’re devouring a bratwurst, best washed down with a cold weiss (white) beer.

Alma mater

I had a good chat with tech entrepreneur Ross Tuffee over coffee at Contini’s on George Street on Thursday. Tuffee founded mobile software startup Dogfish at the advent of the smartphone, going on to sell the business in a multi-million pound deal in 2017.

In 2020, on the back of the Logan Report, he was appointed chair of the Digital Technologies Skills Group that supports Skills Development Scotland (SDS) around the advancement of digital skills - a seriously pressing issue for Scotland in 2022.

Tuffee launched Founder.scot earlier this year to further peer-to-peer learning within Scotland’s startup community, with a particular eye on founders who are only a few years into their entrepreneurial journeys.

One of the insightful takeaways from Ross was around the importance of university alumni in sparking entrepreneurial activity at their alma mater. In fact, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s world renowned entrepreneurial centre only came to life when ten locally based alumni reconnected with MIT and ran seminars which led to the publication of “How to Start Your Own Business” in 1974.

In due course, I fully expect that we will hear more from Ross on the importance of alumni in the Scottish context.

Nick Freer is the founding director of strategic corporate communications agency the Freer Consultancy

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