Evelyn McDonald

Evelyn McDonald

CEO of Scottish EDGE

Scottish EDGE is a bi-annual funding competition aimed at identifying Scotland’s innovative, up-and-coming, high-growth potential entrepreneurs supported by the Royal Bank of Scotland, The Hunter Foundation and Scottish Government.

Each round of the competition is delivered over a four and a half month period.  Evelyn McDonald, CEO of Scottish EDGE reflects on some of the key dates in the current round.

10th September 2015: It’s 1.00 am and the 276th application for Scottish EDGE Round 7 has just arrived – slightly late – in the Scottish EDGE inbox. We’re stunned.  This is the highest number of entrants to the EDGE completion yet and reflects a huge demand for the finance, mentoring, guidance, expertise, connectivity and support that Scottish EDGE provides to businesses to help them achieve their ambitions.

Scottish EDGE sits at the heart of Scotland’s thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem and a network of support organisations have collaborated with us to deliver presentations, training, information and social media messaging to get the word out to potential entrants.  It’s worked!

5th October: Steven Hamill, Scottish EDGE’s Chief Operating Officer and I are hunched over a laptop on the train back from Inverness.  We’ve just completed 10 days of 1st Stage Assessments with 60 judges made up of entrepreneurs, including EDGE Alumni, SE, HIE and Business Gateway staff, bank managers and business professionals.  The 276 application forms have been pored over and assessed and Steven and I are now trying to sort them into who will go to the final for Higgs EDGE, Young EDGE and Wild Card EDGE and who will go to the semi-final.  After much deliberation we select 104 businesses to go to the next stage.

We reflect over the 10 days.  We’ve seen incredible videos with Prickly Thistle, the bespoke tartan business from Highland, deemed EDGE Oscar worthy by the team.  The panel have also scored some of our science and technology businesses very highly with a virtual reality dome from Soluis Labs standing out alongside intricate eye tracking software from Optomize.

20th November:  It’s done.  104 pitches over six days and we’ve been amazed, inspired and humbled by the innovation, ambition and determination of so many of our finalists.  But two stand out for me.  The first is James McIlroy of Eurobiotix who delivered a flawless, passionate pitch which left the judges speechless with admiration and Craig Robertson of Epipole whose breathtakingly clever, innovative retinal scanner could reduce the incidence of diabetic related blindness in the developing world.  Along the way we’ve also seen everything from innovative pumps to swimming devices and innovations in skincare. We select 11 Young EDGE winners, 12 Wild Card EDGE winners (now known by our clients as “Wild” EDGE, thanks to the weird and wonderful ideas) and three Higgs EDGE winners.  We aim to select 20 businesses for the final but four score the same and are hugely impressive so we decide to squeeze in 23.  The scores and feedback are sent out and we continue our detailed preparations for the final.

7th December: It’s now just over one week to the final and our finalists are pitching in front of a stellar panel of judges including Lord Willie Haughey, Clyde Biosciences CEO, Margaret Anne Clyde and the recently announced new Chairman of Scottish Enterprise, Bob Keiller.

Along the way we’ve persuaded 19 business support and professional services organisations to exhibit in the exhibition hall.

The finalists range from geoscience software to soy candles and a booster seat that converts to a child’s luggage to game changing pump technology.

Duncan Logan of Slicon Valley’s Rocketspace, who has worked with tech start-up Uber amongst others will be our keynote speaker live from China alongside DFM, John Swinney, inspiring the audience with his thoughts on tech, talent and finance.

By the end of the day we will have invested well over a million pounds in over 40 innovative Scottish businesses.  Not a bad way to spend a Monday in December!

Investing in the right people  is crucial to any aspiring business. If you need help to find the best talent then get in touch with TalentSpark today.

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