Investors attracted to Scots spin-offs

November 16, 2001

Scottish higher education spin-out companies have been pitching for more than £15 million at the fifth annual Connect investment conference, which plays matchmaker between new ventures and investors, writes Olga Wojtas.

Universities created over a third of the companies selected to make presentations to 250 venture capitalists, corporate financiers and business professionals, including PriceWaterhouse Coopers, the London Stock Exchange, Merrill Lynch and the HSBC Bank.

Ian McDonald, director of Connect Scotland, said: "Investor confidence is such that although the global downturn in technology markets means they're operating with a certain level of caution, they feel Scotland is still a great place to do deals."

The conference also launched a business plan competition for undergraduate and postgraduate science and engineering students in Scotland's 13 universities.

The scheme is run jointly by Connect Scotland and the Scottish Institute for Enterprise, which aims to promote entrepreneurship in higher education.

Carl Togneri, SIE's director, said: "Thirty-six thousand students across the science and engineering curriculum stand to benefit from the enterprise infrastructure that exists in Scottish universities. We believe our Scotland-wide business plan competition will be key to stimulating their entrepreneurial spirit."

Next month, teams of students will be invited to submit outline business concepts, with up to 24 being selected to go on to a second round that will include support and advice from both a champion and mentor.

The final awards will be made in May, with the winners invited to make a presentation at Connect's Springboard event to secure start-up funding.

Mr McDonald said: "To date we have worked with an extraordinary pool of talent coming out of the higher education system in Scotland. We now welcome the opportunity to start work at an earlier stage in the business entrepreneurship cycle."

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