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Foreword by John Waddell FRSE

Investing in start-ups means much more than money…

Foreword by John Waddell FRSE

Investing in start-ups means much more than money

Scotland punches well above its weight in its support for early-stage businesses – and it shows. The excitement which surrounds the current generation of start-ups is something you can almost reach out and feel. And the privilege of helping to put together this edition of Science Scotland is a chance to share a little of that magic.

In the following pages, we focus on nine of the most promising young companies in Scotland, but there are many more stories to tell, so look out for future editions.

The nine companies featured have very different personalities, but they also have much in common. Whether they are focusing on healthcare or software, engineering or music, they have all identified a need in a particular market and developed innovative solutions by drawing on available resources – including technical as well as financial resources. They are not only good observers but are also proving good collaborators and entrepreneurs. And they also have global ambitions.

Scotland is a good incubator for start-ups. The business, academic and investment ecosystem in Scotland (both public and private) has created a spirit of interaction, openness and mutual support so that entrepreneurs do not operate in a vacuum. Investors do not only put in their money but also their experience and expertise. And to turn good opportunities into good outcomes, integrity can be just as important as intelligence, or even inspiration. Competition and collaboration need moral as well as financial support.

The diversity of sectors, business models, opportunities and players in Scotland is impressive for such a small country, where start-ups find it relatively easy to approach the right investors – people who will not just share their vision for a potentially winning idea but can challenge them as well as cheer them on in the drive for success.

Success does not just benefit investors and the owners of the companies in which they invest – success is good for everyone. Equity-funded start-ups are key to creating high-quality jobs and stimulating the economy. This virtuous circle is given further impetus by Scottish universities’ encouragement of spin-outs, as well as their world-class research and development standards – both of which attract potential business creators. The angel investment community in Scotland also makes a major contribution and has greatly increased its influence over the last 25 years, substantially supported by Scottish Enterprise, which started co-investing in 2003 with a revolutionary and now much-copied model. This has enabled Scottish investors to make their money go further and has encouraged more people to enter the market in organised groups, rather than as individuals. Combined with EIS tax relief, this has fostered patience and a longer-term view, which gives young companies the time and space they need to flourish.

This positive investment environment is not only transforming business but also changing attitudes, and on Page 22 Dr Paul Hopkins exemplifies this by suggesting "acquisition can be good for you" – exploding a great business myth.

I hope this snapshot makes you think and also look forward to more insights into the start-up community – and more successes.


John Waddell is one of the most experienced early-stage investment managers in Scotland and was the CEO of Archangel Investors Ltd from 2005–2015.


"Foreword by John Waddell FRSE". Science Scotland (Issue Twenty-two)
Printed from on 31/03/20 02:39:16 PM

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