Now in its 10th year, EIE’s annual investor showcase moves to the University of Edinburgh’s McEwan Hall in 2018, a fitting venue when you consider the university’s contribution to the research and commercialisation of computer science. Edinburgh’s School of Informatics is rated among the top informatics centres globally and excitement builds ahead of the opening of the adjoining Bayes Centre, a hub for data-driven innovation, later this year.
In Edinburgh’s rise to become one one of Europe’s leading tech capitals, the city’s universities are an important piece of the jigsaw. Scotland’s sophisticated angel investment scene, strong support from the nation’s enterprise agencies, the incredible scale-up stories of Skyscanner and FanDuel, prominent VCs like SEP and Pentech, the UK’s largest incubator, CodeBase, and the UK’s first digital skills academy, CodeClan, are other key pieces that make up a picture of growing tech success.
The highlight for Scotland’s tech nation in 2016 was unquestionably Chinese online travel giant Ctrip acquiring Skyscanner but two other lesser known acquisitions of EIE-supported startups by a Silicon Valley juggernaut in the same year also caught the eye when, in the space of a few months, Facebook snapped up audio virtual reality specialist Two Big Ears and University of Strathclyde spin-out mLED.
Last year, EIE17 pitch winner Amiqus secured its latest external funding round with investors from Scotland and San Francisco, with the US-based investor having watched the award-winning pitch by CEO and founder, Callum Murray. There is a pattern emerging around Scottish tech, with increasing numbers of investors from outside the country backing our most promising startups and founders.
Q1 of 2018 was a very good quarter for a number of EIE alumni, with pureLiFi wowing Mobile World Congress in Barcelona with its latest technology, TickX being backed by BGF Ventures and Alzheimer’s app MindMate lining up a series of US VC investors as it tackles one of the greatest health challenges facing society in the 21st century.
In overall terms, EIE has been a springboard to over £600 million of investment into alumni companies. Perhaps the greatest story is around FanDuel and it will be fascinating to hear first hand from co-founders Nigel Eccles, Lesley Eccles and Rob Jones on the 19th of April as they recount the meteoric rise of the fantasy sports site in the US. Many of us will also be looking forward to an update from Nigel and Rob on their newest venture, eSports social streaming platform Flick.
Informatics Ventures’ second Scottish Startup Survey went out onto the startup coalface in recent weeks and this year’s early findings reveal an optimistic sentiment running through the tech community in Scotland, although founders and CEOs see ongoing challenges around investment, skills, sales and Brexit.
What is not in doubt is Edinburgh’s rising star in all things digital. As global business news heavyweight Forbes reported after its trip to EIE last year, “Edinburgh is a sleeping giant that investors will be keeping an eye on, a city of beauty and the past that looks like it is also becoming a city of the future.”