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Funding remains a problem for start-ups, but confidence is still high

A survey of Scotland's start-up community, conducted on the eve of a major showcase for young technology companies, has given an authoritative assessment of the views of entrepreneurs towards their future in Scotland.

The poll by Young Company Finance Scotland, an influential monthly newsletter and website, found that confidence levels continue to defy the "challenging" funding environment north of the Border.

The survey of Scotland's tech start-up scene was conducted on behalf of Informatics Ventures, a knowledge exchange programme funded by the Scottish Funding Council and Scottish Enterprise. It showed that while the funding environment remains tough, start-ups remain confident about the ability to flourish in Scotland, with 59% declaring themselves "very confident" or "moderately confident" of accessing the cash needed to grow their business.

However, a "significant" 41% said they were not confident of sourcing cash in Scotland. Asked about the biggest challenges facing their businesses, 48% of respondents said funding, 25% said customers and 15% said access to talent.

And in a finding that might disappoint pro-independence campaigners, the survey found an overwhelming 85% majority in favour of "closer links to London", with only 15% favouring a loosening of ties.

Around 60 Scottish early-stage companies will convene at Informatics Ventures' annual Engage Invest Exploit (EIE) forum, to be held at Edinburgh's Assembly Rooms on Thursday, which brings start-ups and university spin-outs together with international investors.

The forum has been a springboard to more than £30 million of investment in early-stage Scottish companies since the inaugural event in 2008. EIE14 is being run in conjunction with Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Investment Bank, plus Edinburgh BioQuarter and the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation.

Gordon Stuart of Informatics Ventures said: "This survey, the first of its kind aimed at our start-up community, suggests that funding remains a major obstacle.

"What is so encouraging about the survey is that the vast majority of those same companies are confident they can scale their businesses anyway. That says a lot about the increasingly 'can-do' attitude of our most promising young business talent in Scotland."

The survey was conducted among previous exhibitors at EIE events.

Keynote speakers for this week's forum are bus tycoon Sir Brian Souter, US investor and Dragons' Den star Julie Meyer, plus sports star guests curler Eve Muirhead and tennis coach Judy Murray.

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