Three innovative Scottish start-ups crowned ‘Scotland’s Tech Pioneers’

Ocean Insight, David Farquar, Intelligent Growth Solutions; Ian Stevenson, Cyan Forensics, Chris Gauld, D3, Ishbel Macpherson, Scotland Women in Technology; James Kergon, KPMG

THREE Emerging Giants in the start-up scene have been crowned ‘Scotland’s tech pioneers’ and will now head to London to take part in the UK heat of KPMG’s Best British Tech Pioneer competition.

Edinburgh-based Cyan Forensics, Intelligent Growth Solutions, from Invergowrie, and Glasgow’s Clinspec Diagnostics successfully beat off competition from a raft of other tech-focused businesses after demonstrating unique product innovation, market potential and a passion for international expansion.

Entrepreneurs, from a shortlisted total of eleven companies, were invited to KPMG’s Edinburgh offices to pitch to an expert panel of judges including; Chris Gauld, Partner at digital due diligence firm D3; Founder and CEO of Blue Ocean Insight, Matt Little; Ishbel MacPherson from Scotland Women in Technology; Tony Robison, Partner at Scottish Equity Partners in Technology; and James Kergon and Amy Burnett from KPMG.

The three businesses will now prepare to pitch alongside 13 other businesses in front of an audience of investors and specialists in London next month. If they’re successful, they’ll flow out to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona where they’ll be able to demonstrate their product and make one final pitch to an international audience. Recent competition finalists have included Babylon Health, What3Words Echo and SafeToNet, with previous successful businesses raising more than £100 million in funding.

Cyan Forensics won over the judges with its unique digital tools that enable law enforcement, cloud companies and social media platforms to find and block harmful content generated by cybercriminals, paedophiles and terrorists.

CEO, Ian Stevenson, said:

“There are two things that make Cyan Forensics different. The first is that our technology runs extraordinarily quickly, so we can help the police find evidence in minutes, whereas currently techniques can take many hours. The second is that we can securely share information about illegal content so that it can be identified and blocked in places where you can’t share raw material. It’s really exciting for us at the moment. The more opportunity we get to stand in front of people and tell them about our story, the more support we get and that’s a great part of our journey.”

Intelligent Growth Solutions is already making waves internationally with its ground-breaking technology that could solve some of the challenges created by population growth and climate change.

CEO, David Farquhar, commented:

“IGS has developed the world’s first vertical farm in a box, which is designed to solve some of the world’s food problems. As we approach a global population of 8 billion and we begin to lose around half of our arable land we’re just going to have to find different ways to feed ourselves. All the high-profile people in our space are making their own customised, one-off vertical farms so that they can grow themselves. We’re the first people to productise it and basically stick it in a box so we can get it packaged, flat-packed and sent anywhere in the world. We then support local farmers to let them grow, so we’re the next step in a natural progression. We have various patents now and we have invented things that no-one else has thought of. We’ve really simplified it. Ultimately, that natural Scottish spirit of inquisition and invention has really helped us.”

In addition to the two successful businesses, ClinSpec Diagnostics was chosen by the judges as their Wild Card. The company has developed the world’s first cost-effective blood test for brain cancer, with a mission to be a global leader in blood analysis, using artificial intelligence for early detection of cancers and other diseases.

Founder and CSO Matt Baker said:

“Our businesses is built on one aim – to change the statistics. Early diagnosis can beat cancer. 38% of patients in the UK have to visit their GP more than five times before they’re diagnosed with brain cancer. Staggeringly, 62% are only diagnosed in an emergency situation. That’s partly why brain cancer reduces life expectancy more than any other cancer. We want to transform diagnosis and treatment by tapping in to technology and using AI as a tool to find and cure disease earlier. Naturally, transforming the way we analyse and treat conditions like brain cancer is costly and time-consuming, so being able to demonstrate its benefits to a potentially global audience is a great honour for us.”

Commenting on the winners, KPMG’s Private Enterprise Manager, Amy Burnett, said:

“We were really impressed by the high quality of the businesses pitching. Scotland’s scale-up community is thriving and it’s attracting increasing global attention and investment. On a daily basis, I meet innovative market disrupters, but one of the biggest issues they face is accessing investment and getting in front of the right people at the right time. Our Best British Tech Pioneer competition is about finding that talent and providing them with the opportunity to immediately access a global audience. We’re incredibly proud to send three amazing entrepreneurial leaders from Scotland to sell our innovation to a national, and hopefully global, audience.”

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