14-strong cohort of Scottish tech start-ups to build transatlantic connections

The Austin tie-building trip follows the success of similar missions to Silicon Valley, New York, Helsinki and Lisbon.
The Foras SXSW Austin cohort pictured in Edinburgh last week.The Foras SXSW Austin cohort pictured in Edinburgh last week.
The Foras SXSW Austin cohort pictured in Edinburgh last week.

A 14-strong cohort of Scottish tech entrepreneurs will travel to Texas next month to help build links with the wider US start-up community.

The week-long March trip to Austin is being supported by the Scottish Ecosystem Fund 2023-24, from Scottish Enterprise, and the Scottish Government. The Foras cohort programme is aimed at making connections with the US start-up sector, encouraging peer learning, investor engagement and studying best practices for building “world-class tech businesses”.

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Austin’s region is now home to more than 3,000 fast-growing companies and the city’s total combined enterprise value reached more than $115 billion (£91bn) in 2022. The “SXSW” trip follows the success of similar missions to Silicon Valley, New York, Helsinki and Lisbon.

The programme’s goals complement Mark Logan’s 2020 Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review. Speaking recently on the initiative, Logan said: “To succeed, our start-ups must be as good as the world’s best start-ups. Our founders need to be outward-looking, learning from world-class techniques and frameworks, and from those who have already built global tech companies.”

The Austin cohort was hosted at Thorntons’ Edinburgh base last week, on the back of the announcement of the firm’s long-term partnership with Foras. Alistair Lang, partner and head of ventures and innovation at Thorntons, said: “Congratulations to the 14 founders selected for the Foras SXSW excursion. It’s a phenomenal opportunity to learn more about what it takes to grow a successful, global business and forge new connections. We’ve already had the pleasure of meeting the cohort and we look forward to further supporting their journey as entrepreneurs.”

Foras co-founder Caro Melendez said: “We’re excited to bring together another diverse cohort, not only in the industry focus and aspiration but also in age, ethnicity, gender and lived experience, representing Scotland's eclectic entrepreneurial ecosystem. These excursions encourage peer connectivity, rapid growth and inspiration, and the importance of looking ‘up and out’ to global markets when scaling a business from Scotland.”

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Ana Betancourt, chief executive of audio design tech start-up Black Goblin, added: “SXSW is a beacon for innovation and creativity, and for Black Goblin it represents a huge opportunity to connect with US leaders in the creative sector.”

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