Three-quarters of Scots start-ups to come out of pandemic in stronger position

Almost three-quarters of Scottish business start-ups expect to come out of the pandemic in a stronger position, according to a new survey.
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The Scottish Start-up Survey 2021 was undertaken by the Engage Invest Exploit (EIE) team at the University of Edinburgh’s Bayes Centre.

It found that 68 per cent of fledgling companies have grown despite the economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis, with only 11 per cent saying they contracted.

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Some 72 per cent of respondents said they expect their company to come out of the pandemic in a stronger position, with only 7 per cent answering in the negative, and 21 per cent saying they were unsure.

Sir Sandy Crombie and Callum Murray of Amiqus. Picture: Stewart AttwoodSir Sandy Crombie and Callum Murray of Amiqus. Picture: Stewart Attwood
Sir Sandy Crombie and Callum Murray of Amiqus. Picture: Stewart Attwood

Among the other key findings from the survey, 59 per cent of start-up founders said their company had to “pivot” – or change focus – as a result of the pandemic.

There were 75 start-ups drawn from EIE alumnus companies as well as other start-ups from across Scotland quizzed on topics ranging from growth prospects, the investment backdrop, government support, hiring, plans to return to the office, and wellbeing and mental health.

EIE has supported more than 500 tech start-ups since 2008 which have collectively raised in excess of $1 billion (£720 million) from seed through to series A and later stage funding.

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In terms of the investment backdrop, only about one in three start-ups completed an investment round during the pandemic, with 33 per cent securing an investment round against 67 per cent who did not. About 26 per cent said they were targeting angel investors, 31 per cent said they were targeting venture capital firms, and 43 per cent said they were targeting both.

An EIE21 spokesman said: “While only a third of start-ups polled secured investment rounds during 2020, government support was crucial for many, and overall it’s pleasing to see the overall confidence from founders around coming out of the pandemic in a stronger position.

“What also came through in the survey, was how the vast majority of start-ups are targeting investors outside Scotland – an area that remains crucial to the success of Scotland’s technology ecosystem.”

Some 92 per cent of respondents said they were targeting investors outside Scotland. Meanwhile, 60 per cent of start-ups said they had received government support over the last 15 months, with 40 per cent saying they had not accessed government support.

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Callum Murray, chief executive and founder of Amiqus, an EIE alumnus company that participated in the survey, said: “After taking the decision early on not to furlough any of our team, we were one of the companies in the survey that showed significant growth in the last year, but it’s our people first and the digitisation and behavioural changes brought about by the pandemic second that have led to that success.

“The last year has taken a toll on every person and every family. We’ll be looking to build on our growth not just in terms of revenue, but in how we can continue to look after our people and contribute to making flexibility and wellbeing at work the norm.”

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