Because it’s important to get an occasional airing, I made it along to the Glasgow Tech Fest, now in its second year, on Wednesday at the University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre.
I wrote about Glasgow’s rise as a tech hub in this column earlier this year, as did Krucial CEO and Co-founder Allan Cannon, whose space tech startup is based in the city, so I won’t cover old ground here, albeit to say that having a annual focal point in the form of a conference like Glasgow Tech Fest has got to be a good thing. Even better, one of the principal architects of the conference, Alisdair Gunn, director of the Glasgow Innovation District, announced in his opening remarks that the first Glasgow Tech Week will be taking place next year between 13-17 May.
A highlight this year was the fireside chat between Gillian Docherty, Strathclyde’s chief commercial officer, and Alison Porter, a portfolio manager with Janus Henderson Global Investors. As a fund manager covering Big Tech over the last couple of decades, Porter had a great story about meeting Apple’s former CFO Peter Oppenheimer back in 2002, when Oppenheimer and his investor relations executive were on the last leg of a European investor roadshow in Glasgow.
Hard to believe, but a year on from the launch of the iPod and with visionary leader Steve Jobs back at the helm, Apple was not the stock market darling it went on to become. Over a meal at the city’s famous seafood restaurant Gamba, Porter struck up the start of a longstanding relationship with Apple and its IR team, and presumably Porter received a gold star or two when this unfancied horse went on to beat the bookie’s odds to become one of the legendary FANG stocks.
A day later, supporting global tech advisory firm GP Bullhound on PR around the annual Northern Tech Awards, which returned to Edinburgh for the first time since 2018, it was good to hear some of the pitches from select founders, including Shot Scope CEO and founder David Hunter putting his best foot forward for the Scottish tech scene during the afternoon judging session at the Virgin hotel on Cowgate, before the awards ceremony itself kicked off in the evening at the Assembly Rooms.
It was impressive to see the quality of technology companies based in the North of the UK – North West and North East England, Yorkshire, and Scotland – and one of my main takeaways is that our respective tech hubs should be rubbing shoulders more frequently… to build networks and exchange learnings.
Highlights from the night included hearing GP Bullhound’s Managing Partner Hugh Campbell reading a ChatGPT-created ‘Ode to Technology’ in the style of Robert Burns, and Shot Scope’s David Hunter taking home one of the top awards. You can spot the golf analogy at the beginning of this piece.
Nick Freer is the founding director of corporate communications agency the Freer Consultancy