Fortnightly FinTech Fuse – Awesome FinTech Atmosphere!!

An awesome August atmosphere has been pervasive across Scotland and the fintech innovation activity, in its many guises, has contributed to this over recent weeks.

Since returning from a few days in the beautiful Mediterranean sun, there has been no respite in the breadth and depth of fintech initiatives which are creating this can do entrepreneurship.

The fintech community gathering at one of the new innovation hubs, The Green Room in Edinburgh, where a good number of us came together last Thursday is a great example.

Entrepreneur Atmosphere

The gathering was a mix of fintech entrepreneurs from across Scotland along with some seasoned investors, coming together to try a few glasses of summer wine.

Delighted that Alistair Forbes from Mercia and Ron Robson from Tavistock Group could join us and a huge thank you to Dag Lee and Sarah Ronald for being terrific hosts at one of Scotland’s newest fintech ‘epicentres’. 

We look forward to repeating the gathering during September’s fintech festival, watch this space.

The week before there was another wonderful atmosphere at the Virgin Start Up event in Glasgow which attracted entrepreneurs from far and wide across the country.

Terrific to share the platform with the inspiring Phil Grady of Castlight Financial and Loral Quinn of Sustainably, who brilliantly shared their experiences with entrepreneurs embarking on the innovation journey.

A massive thank you to Andy Fishburn, Alice Mulrooney and the Virgin Start Up team for their leadership as well as Stephen Pearson from Virgin Money for making all this happen. 

We are looking to repeat a similar event with David Duffy, Stephen and the CYBG Virgin Money team on 12thSeptember in Edinburgh with the Scotland’s fintech community. 

There are many other exciting activities being planned to build the entrepreneurial atmosphere, such as by James Varga, the awesome leader of The ID Co, in embracing the open banking opportunities. 

Great to meet up with James a couple of weeks ago to discuss how we support the collaboration with fintech entrepreneurs across the ecosystem.

Similarly, terrific to meet up with Stuart Lunn and Darren Cairns from the market leading firm Lending Crowd and put the world to rights over a few glasses back in the Green Room in Edinburgh. 

Thank you Stuart and Darren for your ongoing valuable insights and feedback, looking forward to building on this last eighteen months of Fintech Scotland into 2020 with you.

The awesome atmosphere is not confined to the evenings and it was great to meet up with long standing colleague and one of the very original fintech leaders (for over 30 year) Ian Mckenna for an early morning breakfast.

We were joined by new chief executive Billy Burnside of Criterion Tec, who we are delighted to welcome into the FinTech Scotland community as we lay down the ‘tracks’ for a new data driven innovation future.

In between the Edinburgh fringe festival activity, it was terrific to meet up with Raymond O’Hare last week to share some of these developments and discuss collaboration opportunities. 

Very excited about welcoming the Raymond and the Exception team to the FinTech Scotland community in the coming months. 

The entrepreneurial atmosphere is also being fueled by a global energy and it is really exciting to meet with successful entrepreneurs bringing their firms to Scotland

Really enjoyed catching up with Gopal Hariharan of Black Arrow in Glasgow and very excited about this fintech enterprise being set up in Scotland

 Then it was also fabulous to meet up with Paul Kiernan to hear about the fast developing plans for the innovative Decision Point enterprise in Scotland.

Looking forward to connecting Gopal and Paul into the community and ecosystem across Scotland and building the collaboration opportunities

Collaboration Atmosphere

This last few weeks I have been really enthused about the flourishing collaboration atmosphere and the opportunities to bring together the fintech community with innovative large enterprises.

For example, great to progress the development of opportunities with Sam Bedford, Gary McLellan and the CYBG Virgin Money team as they further extend their market leading innovation initiatives

Similarly, excited to be working with Ali Law, Julian Reichert, Ricky McKinney and the rest of the team at Royal London as they revolutionize long term savings sector.

Terrific also to engage with the Barclays team, Danielle Sheerin, Sonal Lakhani, Stuart Brown and Alex Ball to explore collaboration initiatives, including the Tech Stars programme during the FinTech Festival.

Delighted to be taking forward the collaboration with Aberdeen Standard Investments and working with Mario Cugini, David Scott, Geoff Aberdein and Ruari Grant to explore fintech collaboration in the asset management sector.

The retail banking sector has already demonstrated the value of closer fintech collaboration and my meetings with the inspiring Kristen Bennie of RBS highlight numerous good examples of this.

Sharing the examples of collaboration across the broader financial sector provides enormous opportunity to build the fintech innovation cluster in Scotland. 

In this respect, the last few weeks has seen constructive conversation with Asif Abdullah, Cyndi Shettle and Martin Little of Franklin Templeton from the investment sector and David Skinn from the insurance sector.

It was also valuable to catch up with Tara Foley of Bank of Scotland to consider how we work more closely to progress specific initiatives on consumer engagement working with the fintech community.

On this note, thrilled to see the ‘Chemistry’ Fintech Accelerator go live last week working with strategic partner Sopra Steria and the Edinburgh Innovations team of University of Edinburgh. 

Terrific leadership by Kerry Nicolaides and Mingaile Vaisnoraite, exciting to be working with banks and fintech firms on this.

Brilliant to also talk through with Mags Moore of Sopra Steria on how we can develop the fintech collaboration across Government with similar initiatives to improve citizen and consumer outcomes

The engagement of consumers in fintech is a growing development and I was delighted to join Dave Shaw and the Tesco Bank team in sharing how they are taking a human design centred approach to customer engagement.

Fantastic to see the work with Chris Speed and team of University of Edinburgh come alive, all very much in line with the collaboration co-design atmosphere, and in a super festival setting at the University.

Another example of collaboration that serves social purpose is the great work lead by Nicola with the launch of the fintech customer panel announced today. This initiative will bring the innovation from the fintech firms together with consumer representative bodies to tackle societal and economical issues. You can read more about it here.

Festival Atmosphere

Talking of festivals, we have been overwhelmed with the support for the FinTech Festival in September, amazing engagement from so many people for the three weeks of activities.

Huge thanks to the wonderful Rory Archibald of Visit Scotland and Karen Craib of Scottish Enterprise who have worked tirelessly with Mickael to bring it all alive.

It was brilliant to meet up with Hazel Gibbens of Tech Nation recently to share plans for the Festival, I’m hoping Hazel will be joining me on the stage for a few events to highlight the support for innovative enterprises across Scotland.

It was super to talk about the growing festival atmosphere across the fintech community at my recent catch up with Huw Martin and Joseph Apted of Head Resourcing recently, very much appreciate their ongoing valuable support for fintech leaders.

Similarly, in meeting up with Graeme Jones of SFE to talk through the plans for the next cross industry and Government meeting, FiSAB, which will take place in the middle of the Festival programme.

It is very apt that the first festival showcase event will take place in Glasgow at the University of Strathclyde with the FinTech Future conference.

University of Strathclyde has led the way in both fintech knowledge and skills development on the global stage and I am hugely excited about the broader development of the fintech cluster as part of the Glasgow Innovation District

Fantastic to be working with Eleanor Shaw, Martin Hughes, Mick McHugh, Emma Stephen and the team at the University as we progress the strategic opportunities

Very much looking forward to taking forward the fintech engagement initiatives being led by Daniel Broby, Devraj Basu, George Wright and John Quigley amongst others.

Fintech and broader tech skills are crucial to the further success and progress of the cluster and economy, in this respect it has been a privilege to be working with the awesome teams at Skills Development Scotland and IBM.

A couple of weeks ago it was an excellent workshop session on developing the skills for young people across Scotland with the motivational Damien Yates, Neville Prentice and SDS team along with the inspiring Gary Kildare, Charlotte Lysohir, Nicky Cooper, Dominic Nolan, Mairi Cairney, Bill Hughes of IBM. 

Many thanks to the magnificent Michael Young and Georgia Boyle and the MBN Solutions team for being wonderful hosts for the meet up with the senior IBM team from all sides of the Atlantic the day before.

Once again, the MBN Solutions team are hosting a range of terrific fintech meet ups as part of the festival and their valuable ongoing leadership makes such a positive difference across the community.

Running Atmosphere

The Kirkcaldy half marathon a couple of Sundays ago was probably the best running race atmosphere I’ve experienced from a local community ever, just amazing! 

The Kingdom of Fife community turned out in huge numbers for a very special race and it was a privilege to savour the magnificent support throughout the 13.1 miles. 

Thank you so much Kirkcaldy, I’m still buzzing from the race even now and I think the buzz will carry on to the Fife Fintech Festival event on 17thSeptember. 

The half marathon was part of my training leading up to the Loch Ness Marathon in October and proceeded another half marathon the week before at Bathgate and a rural midweek eight mile race in the Fife countryside around Ceres. 

Next up is the Kilmacolm half marathon as part of a 23 mile training run next Sunday followed by the Scottish Half marathon in east Lothian, all before the trip to Inverness for the marathon in early October.The next few weeks will be the real test on whether I can get back to my marathon racing best although the atmosphere from the forthcoming fintech festival in September should propel me one way or another!! Until next time!