Global Engineering Company Acquires Cascade Technologies

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A spin-out company supported by Strathclyde University Incubator has been acquired by a global engineering and technology firm.

Cascade Technologies originated in Strathclyde’s Department of Physics, which last week was ranked as the No.1 physics department in the UK – beating Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College – following a government-led University research benchmarking exercise. In Strathclyde’s largest spin-out company sale, Cascade has been acquired by US-based firm Emerson.

Cascade use innovative Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) technology capable of measuring multiple gases simultaneously – helping companies to improve industrial emissions monitoring, production efficiencies and environmental compliance. Emerson is expanding its analytical measurement capabilities by adding QCL to its Rosemount Analytical® gas analysis portfolio.

Stirling-based Cascade originated in Strathclyde’s Department of Physics, through the work of the principal academics Professor Geoff Duxbury and Dr Nigel Langford and research student Erwan Normand.

Strathclyde University Incubator Ltd and the University’s Research & Knowledge Exchange Services Directorate nurtured the company, and the University has worked closely with Cascade on a number of subsequent projects.

QCL technology provides a step change in performance of gas analysers through its increased sensitivity, speed of response, and fingerprinting capability. These technology advancements in the gas analysis market space provide a powerful solution for customers in various industries such as petrochemical, food and beverage, marine, automotive and pharmaceutical.

Dr Iain Howieson, chief executive officer of Cascade Technologies Ltd, said, “Joining a global leader like Emerson represents an incredible opportunity for business growth. Emerson’s global presence and market leadership will have an immediate impact on the adoption of cutting edge QCL gas analysers and monitoring systems.”

by Kimberley White

John Anderson wins Lifetime Achievement Award

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Gabriel Chairman John Anderson wins Lifetime Achievement Award from the Entrepreneurial Exchange.

John Anderson was presented with the award at the official launch of Entrepreneurial Scotland, at the Hilton Glasgow in November. The award was presented to recognise his services to the Entrepreneurial Exchange from 1994–2014.

A founding member of The Entrepreneurial Exchange, John was a shareholding director of a young venture-backed technology company engaged in the design, manufacture and distribution of laboratory equipment, and co-founded a company that provided pre-hospital emergency care and healthcare industry training. As a CA in professional practice he worked with many of Scotland’s most exciting growth companies after returning to Scotland from Chicago in 1989. An experienced non-executive chairman and director in growing businesses, he is a regular contributor to the media on issues facing emerging and high growth companies and was instrumental in setting up the Scottish Enterprise “Local Heroes” project, based in part on his own MBA thesis “Local Heroes – Scotland’s Entrepreneurial Role Models. Furthermore, John is the Chairman at Gabriel Investments.

Commenting on the award, John said, “It was a hugely emotional but very special night, and it was a real honour to receive the award from the inspirational chairmen I have had the pleasure of working with over the years.”

Congratulations from Strathclyde University Incubator on a much-deserved award.

by Kimberley White

SUI and Gabriel Investments earns High Impact Award for GEW

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SUI and Gabriel Investments have been selected as a winner of a High Impact Award for Global Entrepreneurship Week, for our Women’s Enterprise Workshop.

A High Impact Award has been presented to SUI/Gabriel for our participation in Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014. The Women’s Enterprise Workshop that we hosted provided practical support, showcased role models, developed enterprise capabilities, promoted that the event was part of a global inititative, and committed to measuring the effect that Global Entrepreneurship Week had.

SUI/Gabriel Investments would like to thank all those who attended, and presented, at the Women’s Enterprise Event. We would also like to thank those who completed the Global Entrepreneurship Week Feedback Survey, as this feedback helped us to achieve our High Impact Award.

by Kimberley White

mLED win Pitch of the Day at EIE London

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SUI-supported company mLED Ltd win Pitch of the Day at EIE London.

Seonaidh MacDonald, CEO of mLED, won the prestigious accolade of ‘Pitch of the Day’ at the Engage Invest Exploit (EIE) London event on the 27th November.

EIE is Informatics Ventures’ annual showcase of promising new projects to Scottish and global investors. The draw for investors and serial technology entrepreneurs is simple; a rare opportunity to see hot start ups and spin outs in one day and in one place.

mLED are a world leader in the design and manufacture of micro-LED solutions for Wearables. Spun out of the Institute of Photonics in 2010, mLED was incorporated to commercialise that early pioneering effort. Based in Strathclyde University Incubator, mLED is currently active on 3 continents. The company’s focus is on delivering innovation through leading edge technology aligned to satisfying immediate customer demand.

In the past mLED have won esteemed awards including Rising Star Winners (2011), Top 25 Tech Companies, Tech Tour U.K., Top 50 Innovators Venture Summit West, U.S. (2014) and numerous Technology Strategy Board innovation awards.

Commenting on their recent success at EIE, Seonaidh MacDonald said, “I’m naturally delighted that mLED Ltd were voted best Pitch of the Day at this EiE London event. Being shortlisted to present at EiE is in itself a noteworthy achievement but to win this award is recognition of the strength of mLEDs investment proposition. Such success is greatly helped by the support of organisations such as Strathclyde University Incubator, Informatics Ventures and of course Scottish Enterprise.”

The market for Wearable Technology is forecasted by Credit Suisse to be worth more than $50 Billion by 2018, with CCS Insight predicting shipments to ‘surge’ from 22 million in 2014 to 135 million in 2018 – phenomenal growth in volumes.  It will be interesting to see what mLED do next.

by Kimberley White

Women’s Enterprise Event Success

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Gabriel Investments hosted a Women’s Enterprise Workshop on Global Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, the 19th November 2014.

The workshop was aimed at aspiring or early-stage female entrepreneurs, to give them the motivation needed to spur on entrepreneurial action. Twenty would-be women entrepreneurs attended the three-hour event.

Firstly, SUI Managing Director Gill MacAulay gave some tips on what to look for from an investor, over and above the money. Gill advised the entrepreneurs to view angel funding as “a business transaction where you sell a slice of your company for cash”, and warned them not to think as if they would be “giving anything away”.

The second speaker was Susan Aktemel, founder of Homes for Good. Susan spoke of her experiences owning and exiting private companies and social enterprises. Susan spoke honestly about how she juggled having three young babies, a marriage and a start-up business, and particularly inspired some of the mothers in the audience. Susan’s most important thought on investment was never to cut corners on the legal aspects of an investment deal.

Next, we heard from Amy McDonald, the founder of Headtorch Ltd. Amy delivered an interactive session on networking, showing us the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of successful networking, through dramatic role play. We met Amy’s alter-ego, ‘Miranda’, who was hopeless at networking, but managed to teach us what not to do at a networking event.

Finally, Rachel Jones, founder of Totseat Ltd, spoke to us about her product development journey, and how she juggled running a marketing consultancy full-time whilst starting up her (now-global) business on her kitchen table.

Business advisors from organisations such as Scottish Enterprise attended directly after the workshop to network and give advice to the female entrepreneurs.

(L-R: Gillian MacAulay, Amy McDonald, Susan Aktemel, Rachel Jones)

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Photographs by Mark Runnacles, Parallax Photography

Some feedback from the event:

“I thought the seminar was fantastic! It was very inspiring and uplifting and I’m hoping that events for women like this will be considered for the near future. I have to tell you though, it was a lot of fun… Especially Miranda! It really did open your eyes to behaviours acted out at networking sessions… I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.”

Jakki BalkwillNew World Security Solutions

“A massive thank you for organising such an amazing event yesterday – I really enjoyed it. I feel that this quote sums up everything that I learned on the day: “Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, and how you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark.”

- Amanda Day, All Day Designs

“The Women’s Enterprise Workshop was a fantastic and inspirational event to attend. We heard from three very different female entrepreneurs and were able to learn something from all of them. The event was very motivational, to hear the success stories of females who were once in the position that I am in right now. Thank you Gabriel, for a great event.”

- Rebecca Pick, Pick Protection

“I got the chance to learn from some amazing women. Hearing about each of their very different entrepreneurial journeys was inspiring!”

- Jazz Rogers, Mo’s Cookie Dough

A special thanks to our sponsors; Wright, Johnson & MacKenzie LLP, and Campbell Dallas.

by Kimberley White

SUI and Gabriel To Host Event For Would-be Women Entrepreneurs

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Are you a budding female entrepreneur? There are many women out there who are, but for one reason or another, have not yet put their ideas into action.

Strathclyde University Incubator want to help break down the barriers, and propel women into entrepreneurial action. On the 19th November, 2-5pm, SUI will host a workshop for would-be women entrepreneurs (of any age). This workshop will be aimed at females who perhaps lack the confidence and inspiration needed to kick-start their business idea.

Guest speakers will include Rachel Jones of Totseat Ltd, Susan Aktamel of Homes for Good, and Amy MacDonald of Creative Training. These are females who have each started their own business, and can share the trials and tribulations of this process. Furthermore, they will give real-world advice on how to get through the early stages and make a success of a fledgling business idea. The event will be hosted by SUI Managing Director, Gill MacAulay, who will shed light on what entrepreneurs should be looking for from investors, over and above the money.

After the event there will be a chance to network with like-minded females, and advisors will be on hand to answer questions on areas such as patents, design, and finance.

Please click here to register your interest for this event, but hurry as numbers are limited.

by Kimberley White

Gill MacAulay on Converge Challenge 2014 Judging Panel

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Strathclyde University Incubator Managing Director Gill MacAulay invited to sit on judging panel for esteemed business enterprise competition, the Converge Challenge.

Gill MacAulay was a judge at the 2014 Converge Challenge, which took place on the 30th September, at the Edinburgh Conference Centre in Heriot-Watt University. The Converge Challenge is Scotland’s premier business competition with a top prize of £60k, funded by eight Scottish universities and the Scottish Funding Council. The aim of the programme is to give students and staff from all Scottish Universities and Research Institutes the chance to exploit the commercial potential of their inventions. It presents an opportunity for entrepreneurs to develop business skills, build confidence, and learn from some of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs.

Gillian was joined on the panel by the chair, Meryvn Jones, Dr Douglas Anderson, Professor David Milne, Anton Ziolkowski, and Robert Higginson. Her selection as a judge was due to her wealth of experience in supporting over 100 start-ups and providing business development advice: primarily in the areas of finance, grant assistance, business planning and marketing.

The winner of the top prize of £60k was Savitur Metrics, founded by Claudia Chen. Savitur Metrics aims to become a leading global supplier of monitoring technology for effective quality control across pharmaceutical and chemical plants around the world. The Savitur metrics team (Claudia Chen, Ian Stevenson and Suresh Thennadil) are planning to target a £100m market within this sector and will spin the business out from the University of Strathclyde in early 2015.

In second place was Muhammad Sadiq from the University of Dundee with his company Ultravizion, a medical device ‘Active Needle’ technology that allows clinicians to see standard medical needles in colour during ultrasound guided needle procedures, and in third place was Alexander Ward and colleagues, Jack Barraclough and Clifford Hicks from the University of St Andrews. Alexander’s company, Razorbill Instruments, produces ­a machine capable of precise movement at the nano-scale to be used in microchip manufacturing, physics and biomedical research.

Gill found it a very tough job to judge the young businesses, but enjoyed hearing from fresh new talent.

by Kimberley White

“It really means a lot to us” – Cojengo CEO Craig Taylor Enjoying Success In Africa

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Scottish technology company Cojengo are enjoying great success in Africa less than a year since receiving seed-funding from Gabriel Investments. In the last month, Cojengo have secured a formal partnership with the College of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture at Addis Ababa University, and also celebrated the launch of their VetAfrica app in the Microsoft Store.

Such huge strides are more impressive considering the company was only formed by Craig Taylor and associates in October last year. Having established their market-place, Cojengo are able to focus on expansion throughout Africa, but Craig concedes that the initial support he received from Gabriel provided them with the firm foundation they are now building on.

He said: “We had a different vision of how we’d start out, which actually involved quite a lot of risk. Then I was introduced to Gabriel, via Josh Sauter (advisor at the Strathclyde Enterprise Hub) and Barry Hochfield, an Enterprise Partner and Gabriel Business Angel. Having never started a company before, or had much experience with investment funds, it was all new to me, but Gill and her team made the process as easy as possible”

With Gabriel support secured, Cojengo are honing their products, primarily the VetAfrica app which protects the livelihood of rural farmers by allowing them to quickly diagnose livestock; a process made more effective with access to the resources of the Veterinary College in one of Africa’s top 30 Universities.

Craig said: “It was extremely important for us to form a partnership with an African Veterinary institution, as we now have an insight into the real problems that people face every day. The alliance with Addis Ababa University allows us to meet decision makers on the continent and obtain commitments to our development, but even more crucially we will be able to meet our users and better understand their challenges so that we can evolve VetAfrica around their needs.

The University is not the only high-profile partnership Cojengo have brokered during their short cycle, having spotted and exploited an opening earlier this year with software monoliths Microsoft.

Craig said: “I previously worked in the Microsoft channel, gaining some relevant experience and a knowledge of the way they operate. When they launched the 4Afrika initiative, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take the work I’d done as a student in 2008 and move it forward commercially.”

Craig’s final-year project offered a solution to the regular loss of precious livestock in the Horn of Africa, and he felt it would be well-suited to the Microsoft 4Afrika initiative, “built on the dual beliefs that technology can accelerate growth for Africa, and Africa can also accelerate technology for the world.

VetAfrica was born.

Craig said: “Getting the app live and approved by Microsoft has been our main focus to date. It really means a lot to us. From a business perspective, we can now reach a much wider group of users and start to ramp up marketing activity, and the feedback we receive will help us develop future versions of VetAfrica to the benefit of the country

Now dividing his time between Glasgow and East Africa, Craig has travelled quite a distance since first jotting-down a business idea on a University notepad. He had this to say to any aspiring entrepreneurs:

If you have an idea or product you believe in, be passionate, do your market research and due diligence, and don’t be put off if your business plan is only in the early stages. Gabriel value promise and personality, and can help evolve your business with their experience, advice and expansive network

SUI Company Lands Top Prize at EIE14

EIE 2014 Pitch of the day winners Biogelx

Scottish biomaterials start-up Biogelx, a company supported by Strathclyde University Incubator, walked away with the biggest prize at this year’s Engage Invest Exploit (EIE14), Scotland’s largest new business showcase, after delivering the best pitch of all participating companies.

Biogelx, who supply peptide hydrogels for the global cell culture market, were named ’Pitch of the Day’ winners after impressing audiences with their customised gel products, aimed at improving cell biology.

Where before cell biologists were largely faced with a ‘one size fits all’ approach to growing cells in the laboratory  Biogelx’s gels can be designed to match the properties of different types of cells in culture, to mimic the behaviour of the body’s tissues and organs.

CEO David Lightbody said, “EIE14 was a great opportunity to showcase Biogelx to the investment community. We are delighted to have won the ‘Pitch of the Day’ award, as it highlighted the potential of our technology to address a major market opportunity and served as an appreciation that we have a team in place who can deliver success.

EIE14, Scotland’s premier annual investor event, brought together talent from the thriving Scottish start-up scene to talk to a variety of investors, with 60 companies taking part in the event at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh.

The event, organised and sponsored by Informatics Ventures, allowed time for three keynote speakers in between pitches and networking: Stagecoach co-founder Sir Brian Soutar, Chairman and CEO of Julie Meyer MBE, and after-dinner speaker Eve Muirhead, current Curling World Champion and Team GB Olympic Skipper.

EIE aims to facilitate communication between as many investors and start-ups as possible, setting up stalls for businesses to showcase their products and meet with interested parties.

Several companies are selected to present longer pitches on the day, with the most successful being chosen as winners.

Young Entrepreneurs Benefit from SUI Expertise As They Win Recognition in Strathclyde 100 Competition

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Strathclyde University Incubator may have catalysed the emergence of two more potential businesses after helping Strathclyde University students excel against entrepreneurial competition at a Strathclyde 100 event in Glasgow last month, where they benefited from the experience of their business mentor, SUI Managing Director Gillian MacAulay.

Organisations in attendance at the behest of the S100, a network of entrepreneurial alumni and business people who support emerging Strathclyde entrepreneurs, included Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Institute for Enterprise, the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, and banking behemoths Santander. Guests were greeted with a drinks reception followed by short presentations from Student Enterprise Ambassador Nicole Perry and Strathclyde Enterprise Hub Advisor Josh Sauter, before settling down for the main event.

The Dragon’s Den-style competition was arranged into two categories: one made up of post-graduate researchers and another of under-graduate students, with Gill, John Anderson and Alasdair Mackay as its 3 mentors-turned-judges. It threw groups of participants together to churn out a viable business idea and present them while under fire from the business Dragons and a 100-strong audience comprising many of Scotland’s foremost entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers.

Standing up in front of such an illustrious crowd ramped up the pressure for participants, and given that they would only have a few minutes to showcase an entire business and how they planned to take it forward, it was crucial that they delivered their presentations crisply and understood their subject back to front. Thankfully for eventual under-grad winners Essential Vitality (Postura), they had been sent a business angel.

Matthew McLintock said, “We met with Gill several times and received invaluable guidance on how to improve our presentation for the S100 event. Gill impressed on us the importance of time management, advising us to stay well clear of the time limit, as well as emphasising the importance of capturing the audience’s attention by finishing our presentation in an emphatic and memorable fashion. With the presentation being central to the competition overall, Gill’s mentoring was crucial to our group winning the award for best student idea.

Gill was similarly professional on the night, a vision of fairness and equality on the judging panel, not for a second entertaining the idea of favouring her young charges. After her team received glowing praise from her colleague and fellow mentor John Anderson, she was asked if she would like to respond in kind by saying something nice about John and his young entrepreneurs.

No

It was then the turn of the post-graduate researchers to take the floor. VO Search, the group coached by Gill, proposed a database which would alleviate the struggle academics face to find volunteers for their research. With 1 in 5 organisations intimating that difficulties in the recruitment or retention of volunteers would hold them back over the next three years according to the UK Civil Society Almanac, this is a considerable problem in academic circles, but VO Search team member Evangelia Daskalaki praised their mentor for enabling them to sell such a specialised concept to a wider audience.

She said “Coming from a research background and being trained to construct presentations for the scientific community, it was important to learn how to switch from this technical mind-set to one of more ‘charm’, I would say. Gillian taught us the value of being able to convince someone to buy into your idea, and that is where she really came through for us as a mentor.

While VO Search did not manage to triumph in the researcher’s category, they were able to secure a very commendable second place. As a business they still have a long road to travel, yet the experience has increased their appetite for success and the group hope that their showing at the S100 event has provided them with the boost they need to take the company forward.

Eva said “Right now, VO Search is still largely an idea so we have no immediate plans, but we are currently meeting with the advisors at the Enterprise Hub to discuss next steps and I have signed us up for the latest event run by Gabriel: How To Build The Killer Business Plan, to help me turn this idea into reality.”