Last week, I once again attended one of my favourite events on the Scottish entrepreneurial event calendar, the Scottish EDGE final. I arrived early to set-up my stand in the exhibitor atrium and the place was already buzzing – a mix of excitement and nervous energy from those getting ready to pitch their business plans to the Round 10 judging panel.

We were welcomed to the event by our host, Mel Sherwood, who did a fantastic job on her first outing as EDGE compere. The tone of the day was set early, with the first batch of pitchers being of such a high standard that three of the five were later announced as winners at the evening award ceremony, including Turtle Pack, who together with Staels Design, was awarded the maximum amount possible of 100k.

The panel for this round was chaired by Brian McBride, Chairman of ASOS, with James Watt of BrewDog assuming the Simon Cowell role, putting the pitchers through their paces with razor sharp questioning that left many a little scarred, but not defeated. With 240 applications having been received, the panel had their work cut-out choosing the winners from the 20 that had made it through to the final. Nevertheless, twelve winners were chosen and were collectively awarded over £700k in funding, bringing the total for this round to £1.24 million when added to the sum already awarded in the Young EDGE, Wild Card EDGE and Higgs EDGE Categories.

This was my second EDGE outing as a member of one of its supporting partner organizations and as with my last visit, the sense of comradery and common goal of supporting Scotland’s growth as a global player in entrepreneurship was evident. Seeing the finalists genuinely rooting for their competitors during the winner announcements at the award ceremony certainly reinforced this ethos. Quite fitting then that the final came a week after Scottish EDGE announced the launch of the ‘EDGE Pledge’, a pay-it-forward initiative from Scottish EDGE which allows previous winners the opportunity to support the next generation of entrepreneurs.

For me, the award show highlight came in the form of keynote speaker Steve Dunlop of Scottish Canals. While I’ll admit to initially being a little skeptical as to how interesting a talk on canals could be, I (like the majority of the auditorium) was blown away by the ingenuity shown by Steve and his team, rejuvenating forgotten waterway areas in Scotland through fascinating innovation. I’ll be looking at the Kelpies in a whole new light.

The applications for Round 11 open online on 31st July and I can’t wait to see the next batch of finalists take to the stage at #EDGE11, which I hope will include some of the brilliant finalists who missed out on a winning spot this time, because as Scottish EDGE CEO Evelyn McDonald explained, over 50% of EDGE winners to date were awarded funding on their second, third, or fourth attempt.

Craig Jackson

Director | ESS Start Up

Categories: Inspire

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