6 investors and founders predict growth of hockey stick on Edinburgh’s opening stage – TechCrunch

Scotland is slowly but surely paying attention to the UK start-up space. According to Tech Nation, in 2020 Scottish start-ups have raised a total of £ 345m. Venture capital fundraising is also growing steadily.

The Scottish capital, Edinburgh, boasts a stunning hilly landscape, a solid education system and good access to finance, public and private investment. It is also one of the best financial centers in the UK, making it a great place to start a business.

So to find out what the startup scene in Edinburgh looks like, we talked to six founders, executives and investors. The urban technology ecosystem seems to have a solid space for machine learning, artificial intelligence, biomedicine, fintech, travel technology, oil, renewable energy, e-learning.


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However, the urban technology scene appears to be weak when it comes to legal technologies, blockchain and consumer-oriented technologies.

Breakout companies based in Edinburgh are Skyscanner and FanDuel. Current crops include Desana, Continuum Industries, Parsley Box, Current Health, Boundary, Zumo, Appointedd, Criton, Mallzee, TravelNest, TVSquared , Care Source, Stampede, For-Sight, Vistalworks, Reath, InfraCost, Speech Graphics and Teal Forensics.

The business angel community in Edinburgh seems to be quite strong, but it seems difficult for local founders to attract London-based investors. Scottish investors are said to be ‘fairly conservative and risk-averse’, with a few notable exceptions.

We interviewed:


Wendy Lamin, CEO of Holoxica

In which sectors is your technology ecosystem strong? What excites you the most? What is he missing?
It is strong in space, biomedicine, fintech / insurtech, AI.

What are the technology investors in Edinburgh? What is their focus?
The Scottish business angel community is said to be the largest in Europe. It’s hard to get London-based investors interested in Scotland — investors may tend to look at where companies are. It is difficult for ‘under-represented founders’ to get investment in Scotland and beyond.

Do you switch to telecommuting, do you think people will stay in Edinburgh, or move out? Will others move in?
Stay. It is not always easy to force people to come to live in Scotland. In Edinburgh, there are many preconceptions, despite being one of the best cities to live in across the UK

Who are the key start-ups in the city (e.g., Investors, Founders, Lawyers, Designers)?
It’s fun to focus more on investing in impact. Par Equity is one of Edinburgh’s largest investors, and the Archangels are one of Angel’s largest investors. Poonam Malik is a great fit for diversity and entrepreneurs, she is on the board of Scottish Enterprise and is a social entrepreneur and investor. Garry Bernstein is also an investor, head of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates in Scotland and co-founder of Tech Scot Advocates.

Where do you think the urban technology scene will be in five years?
Thriving. The government is doing everything possible for the technology sector. However, technology education is a problem at the moment. I hope Brexit won’t be too much of a problem.

Andrew Noble, Partner at Par Equity

In which sectors is your technology ecosystem strong? What excites you the most? What is he missing?
Strong in fintech, health technology, data science, deep technology. Excited about quantum computing, advanced materials, AI in Edinburgh. Weak blockchain and users.

What are the most exciting starters in Edinburgh?
Current Health, InfraCost, Language Graphics and Teal Forensics.

What are the technology investors in Edinburgh? What is their focus?
Successful in the start-up phase up to £ 1 million, well-up against Series A (£ 1 million to £ 3 million) and non-existent for Series A (£ 3-10 million). The quality of investors is improving. Par Equity leads.

Do you switch to telecommuting, do you think people will stay in Edinburgh, or move out? Will others move in?
Experiencing an influx of new talent due to COVID-19. Edinburgh is a very desirable city to live in. The newest new residents are Aaron Ross (projected revenue) and Jules Pursuad (an early Airbnb employee and now vice president of Omio).

Who are the key start-ups in the city (e.g., Investors, Founders, Lawyers, Designers)?
About Equity (investor), Paul Atkinson, Alistair Forbes, Mark Logan, Lesley Eccles, Chris McCann, CodeBase.

Where do you think the city’s tech scene will be in five years?
From one to two new unicorns. A promising number of fast-growing technology companies. A much more complicated investor scene in the A-Series space.

Danae Shell, Founder and CEO of Valla

In which sectors is your technology ecosystem strong? What excites you the most? What is he missing?
Edinburgh is strong in fintech as we are close to many financial services companies and banks. Also, there are some interesting gaming technology companies because of the history of our gaming companies. We are quite weak in the field of legal technology, in the field of Valla.

What are the most exciting starters in Edinburgh?
Vistalworks for consumer technologies; Sustainable fintech; Death for sustainable technologies.

What are the technology investors in Edinburgh? What is their focus?
Scottish investors are generally quite conservative and risk averse. The only real exception is Techstart Ventures, in my experience.

Do you switch to telecommuting, do you think people will stay in Edinburgh, or move out? Will others move in?
I think more people will come to Edinburgh from London because the quality of life and the cost of living are much better here.

Who are the key start-ups in the city (e.g., Investors, Founders, Lawyers, Designers)?
Calum Forsyth and Mark Hogarth of Techstart Ventures; Janine Matheson of CodeBase; Jackie Waring of the Angel Investing Syndicate; Jim Newbury is a highly respected developer and coach, and my co-founder Kate Ho is also well known. Also Danny Helsinki, host of the EIE event with Bayes Center.

Where do you think the urban technology scene will be in five years?
We’ve had a few exits over the last few years (Skyscanner, FreeAgent), which means talents are spreading across the ecosystem here and we’re starting fantastic new start-ups. Five years from now, this first harvest should come to the A series stage so we can see a lot of very exciting businesses!

Allan Nelson, Founder and CEO of For-Sight

In which sectors is your technology ecosystem strong? What excites you the most? What is he missing?
Strong in fintech, travel technology, health, oil, renewables, e-commerce, games (both video games and gambling). Exciting all bar oil (great income, but not the engine of the future).

What are the most exciting starters in Edinburgh?
Boundary, Parsley Box, Designated, Criton, Mallzee, TravelNest, TVSquared, Care Source, Stampede, For-Sight.

What are the technology investors in Edinburgh? What is their focus?
Big fintech scene here. Travel technology is also growing, and Skyscanner’s influence is strong.

Do you switch to telecommuting, do you think people will stay in Edinburgh, or move out? Will others move in?
Most will stay because it is a very attractive city to live and work in. It is a world-renowned and unique city. A very international taste, confirmed by the composition of our team.

Who are the key start-ups in the city (e.g., Investors, Founders, Lawyers, Designers)?
Former Skyscanner people, including Gareth Williams, Mark Logan and others. Ian Ritchie, Alistair Forbes, Founder of FanDuel and Founder of CodeBase.

Where do you think the urban technology scene will be in five years?
Much higher because technology is a key growth goal for the Scottish Government and is backed / influenced / inspired by Skyscanner and FanDuel.

Lysimachos Zografos, founder of Parkure

In which sectors is your technology ecosystem strong? What excites you the most? What is he missing?
Strong machine learning / AI / digital. Weak discovery of deep technologies, especially in biotechnology / therapy. Excited by the increase in AI through drug discovery — all of these ideas that were science fiction 20 years ago are now being translated into pound sterling deals.

What are the most exciting starters in Edinburgh?
Phenotherapy.

What are the technology investors in Edinburgh? What is their focus?
Conservative angels and some tech seeds VC.

Do you switch to telecommuting, do you think people will stay in Edinburgh, or move out? Will others move in?
Move.

Who are the key start-ups in the city (e.g., Investors, Founders, Lawyers, Designers)?
Investors: Archangels, Techstart Ventures and Epidarex.

Where do you think the urban technology scene will be in five years?
Auga.

Bertie Wilson, founder of the secret regime

In which sectors is your technology ecosystem strong? What excites you the most? What is he missing?
I don’t think there are any sectors that stand out – it’s pretty evenly divided. A good strength of the city is the talent that comes from universities. There are some really good engineers from Edinburgh, Heriot Watt and Edinburgh Napier. The main disadvantage is that the ecosystem is unfavorable to the most ambitious founders. Most investors in the region are angels and are not interested in finding outliers that could grow 1,000 times, and are more interested in supporting companies that are less risky but can increase their money 5 times. If you want to find investors who would oppose risky (but very ambitious) plans, it’s easier to find elsewhere.

What are the most exciting starters in Edinburgh?
Desana, Continuum Industries, Parsley Box, Current Health, Riba, Zumo.

What are the technology investors in Edinburgh? What is their focus?
I would say things are getting better, but there are still a lot of ecosystem problems. In Scotland, it is assisted by Techstart, an early-stage investor with high confidence and maturities more similar to London venture capital funds. Nevertheless, it is not difficult for founders to create a cluttered table with caps due to the number of angels and the lack of venture capital funds looking for VC-type returns — the clutter of these top tables can make it difficult to bring risk funding down the line. This applies to many companies that do not seek a return on risk (which, of course, there are many), but it can hurt those that are.

Do you switch to telecommuting, do you think people will stay in Edinburgh, or move out? Will others move in?
I imagine and hope others will move. It is a great place to live in a very high quality, and it should be a natural attraction for people who want a good standard of living but want to stay in the city.

Who are the key start-ups in the city (e.g., Investors, Founders, Lawyers, Designers)?
SEP (investor), Techstart Ventures (investor), Gareth Williams (founder / investor), MBM Commercial (lawyers), Pentech, Bill Dobbie (investor), Jamie Coleman.

Where do you think the urban technology scene will be in five years?
I am optimistic that there will be many companies batching the B / C series stage, which will lead to much greater investor interest outside Edinburgh (London, Berlin, Paris, New York, San Francisco, etc.). in these stages.

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