‘Just like in geopolitics, there are two major powers when it comes to artificial intelligence right now: China and the US.’
So said Hermann Hauser of Amadeus Capital, Austrian entrepreneur and pioneer of the Cambridge Network tech ecosystem, in a keynote speech to the United Nations in December 2018. Mr Hauser went on to diagnose the problem as a lack of mega rounds ($50-100m) that characterise US startups, and China’s strong political and industry-led support in developing and adopting AI technologies.
The UK, and Edinburgh in particular, might have something to say about this.
The reputation of the Scottish capital as a leading European centre for Artificial Intelligence continues to accelerate due to a potent mix of being a city in which more than one startup was founded each day in 2018 – also a record year for angel investor syndicates – and with strong political backing for the ecosystem underlined by Princess Royal's opening of the University of Edinburgh's Bayes Centre.
The Bayes Centre received £30m of UK Government funding as part of a £1.3bn Regional City Deal, and will further cement Edinburgh’s position as a global leader in the field of data science, AI and analytics. Its AI and blockchain accelerator is a joint initiative with Telefonica’s open innovation platform Wayra UK and is supported by Scottish Enterprise.
Looking more widely, Scotland's tech sector has been buoyed by the internationally reported exits of Scottish tech unicorn's, Skyscanner and FanDuel, as well as strategic acquisition of the audio VR company ‘Two Big Ears’ by Facebook and several other smaller exits.
What’s clear is that Edinburgh is continually reinforcing its international reputation as an ecosystem in which great startups can grow, develop and exit. This is why the European Super Angels Club (ESAC) has chosen Edinburgh as one of five destinations for its AI-focused Spring 2019 national competitions, which will also take place in Zurich, Paris, Munich and Vienna.
Just as a large investor delegation from China was present at the EIE event last year, European early-stage investors are casting a favorable eye towards Edinburgh for inventive teams working on products that can scale across Europe and beyond.
ESAC is a pan-European co-investment and networking club for super angels, high-net-worth individuals, family offices, venture capital firms and corporates. Particularly strong in the DACH region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), members combine their individual financial strength and know-how to invest in high-growth European startups raising rounds of €1-10m. It has a strong track-record in AI investing, with half of its portfolio companies leveraging the technology, including: Yodel, Grape.io and Butleroy. They have also just completed a co-investment in myBioma with one of the world’s leading AI investors, Daniel Mattes, through his new fund 42.cx.
Berthold Baurek-Karlic, CEO of ESAC, said: ‘We are coming to Edinburgh to find the top five Scottish AI startups, meet potential Scottish co-investors and see if we can work together to build larger rounds for the ecosystem and Europe more generally. We are delighted to be partnering with leading law firm, Shepherd and Wedderburn, to host our investor-only event.’
Tom Swan, corporate finance partner at Shepherd and Wedderburn, said: ‘The European Super Angels Club has successfully funded a number of high-growth fintech, regtech and AI start-ups, and this event presents a great opportunity for locally-grown spinouts and startups to meet with and discuss investment opportunities with professional investors, legal experts, family offices and high net worth individuals.’
If you would like to hear more about the investor-only event, please register here for our invitation list here to be the first to get the details of the event.