Glasgow City Council's adoption of a database to promote the great work going in the city's tech ecosystem is proving to be a game-changer, with Scotland's largest city region figuring in the top three in the UK for venture capital funding

It was the analytical mind of a certain Sherlock Holmes that concluded: “It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data!” The fictional super-sleuth would certainly have approved of the Glasgow Tech Ecosystem Platform.

Launched late last year by Glasgow City Council, it is already proving to be a gamechanger.

With free access for organisations with a presence or interest in the city region and the wider tech economy, it is powered by, a global data platform for intelligence on businesses that has established itself as the foremost data provider on start-ups, early-stage and growth company ecosystems around the globe.

The recently published Glasgow City Region Ecosystem  Report, which highlights the strengths and potential areas of growth in the startup ecosystem, revealed an eight per cent growth in Venture Capital (VC) funding in Q2 in 2023 compared to 2022, with £170 million raised by start-ups over that period.

In fact, Glasgow is shown to be bucking a largely downward European trend for start-up and scale-up venture capital and ranks third on a list of UK cities for 
VC investment, behind Manchester at 25 per cent growth and Birmingham on 18 per cent.

The enterprise value of the Glasgow City Region Tech Ecosystem currently stands at £3.4 billion – that’s an 89% rise since 2018. Glasgow-based universities, meanwhile, have featured twice in the UK’s top 20 for most spinouts.

These tangible results are warmly welcomed by Gavin Smyth, Tech Ecosystem Manager at Glasgow City Council and the lead on promoting the city’s tech credentials including developing different platforms and channels to amplify the voice of the regional technology ecosystem.

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“At the heart of the tech ecosystem are essentially the start-ups and scale-ups who are developing world-leading products and services, many of whom are trying to attract further investment and show proof of their growth and success to a broader, international audience,” he explains.

“We’re helping to put the Glasgow City Region on the map for business and investment by shining a light on these high growth companies and the entrepreneurial organisations that support them.

There is a huge amount of investment going into the city across a number of different sectors, with really fascinating and exciting start-ups operating here, founded and led by an exceptional pipeline of locally based talent.

“Our job is to enable and amplify their successes.

“A platform such as Dealroom, which we’ve built out over the past couple of years, gives access to data that drives insights that allow us to tell the city’s tech story more effectively and promote our regional strengths.”

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Founded in Amsterdam in 2013, Dealroom is used by many of the world’s investors, entrepreneurs and government organisations to provide transparency, analysis and insights on venture capital activity.

Data expert Thomas Redman once claimed: “Where there is data smoke, there is business fire!” and this perfectly reflects the symbiotic drive for growth that exists between data gathering, sharing and analysis coupled with investment and entrepreneurship.

So how does the platform facilitate this? Essentially, it is a real-time database that pulls together intelligence on start-ups, innovation, high-growth companies and investment strategies, all into one place.

Glasgow’s custom platform is the UK’s first standalone regional example, designed to support local government, academia and other public-private agencies.
Smyth notes: “What’s great about this particular platform is its creators have worked with other governments and private institutions to map business ecosystems at a city, regional and national level so we are joining a global network of ecosystem partners.

“It’s all about data insights and improved transparency leading to better visibility on what’s happening in the city and getting that message out to a wider audience.

“Dealroom have been running for about 10 years now and work with about 70 different locations around the world, with a client base who all see the value of having this insight at their fingertips so they can tell better, more informed stories about their ecosystems too.”
Creating and sharing ‘better stories’ can lead to better results. According to Mark Logan, the Scottish Government’s ‘Chief Entrepreneurial Advisor’, the Glasgow tech ecosystem is now entering a virtuous cycle.

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“Catalysts such as the Innovation Districts, Tech Scaler, and an increased focus from our universities on entrepreneurship are combining to create more, and stronger start-ups,” he notes. “These, in turn, create more belief, and strengthen the ecosystem’s experience base, leading to further start-up creation. It’s the most exciting entrepreneurial environment we’ve seen in Glasgow in living memory.”

A USP for Dealroom is the depth of coverage and the fact it has all of the complex and multi-faceted information in one place. “The reason we partnered with Dealroom was that most other providers in the marketplace only had scant coverage of the city, maybe 10% or 15% at best. Dealroom already had quite a lot of that in place,” says Smyth. “What it lacked was the local intelligence to help make it into something credible and Glasgow-specific. That’s where the partnership was born.”

We spent a lot of time with them curating the data and putting that into really good shape before we launched the platform at the end of last year. We now continually ‘slice and dice’ that data to unearth insights about the city’s ecosystem and investment potential.”

Another major benefit is it is fundamentally a ‘self-service’ platform that supports open source data. Start-ups can sign up for free and ‘feed the platform’ by creating their own profile and updating it themselves.

“It’s about building an engaged community around transparent data which helps to accelerate innovation by enabling better decision-making,” says Smyth. “This provides a vital element of credibility because it’s being supported by the community themselves and not controlled by one individual entity. That’s really important.”

He points out, normally, there would typically be high licence fees to pay to access this kind of information, with the average start-up finding this prohibitive.

Smyth says: “Importantly, what we’ve done as a council is to licence the platform on behalf of the regional tech ecosystem. This means all the data that pertains to Glasgow City Region is accessible by all and free at the point of access.

“So that data becomes democratised. It’s owned by the community and everyone can access the same data rather than having to rely on those institutions who can afford to pay for it.”

As Dealroom opens doors for entrepreneurs, start-ups and scale-ups, it’s envisaged the database will provide new and far-ranging opportunities.

“The platform has many different benefits for many different actors,” Smyth points out. “So, if you’re a start-up or a founder, you can use it to discover relevant investors because it has a matching tool that allows you to match up to potential investors based on what sector you’re in, what stage your company’s at. They have a Founder’s Package, for example, that allows start-ups to upload their pitchdecks and have fixed-term access to their global database of investors.”

“If you’re a researcher, you can use it to access things like the combined valuation of all the health tech start-ups over the past three to five years. Universities can use it to showcase and measure the performance of their spin-out companies. If you’re an accelerator and incubator, you can track the success to your alumni: how much employment they have generated, how many investment rounds they have raised, how many international offices they have opened.

“If you’re a policymaker, you can identify the most or least funded sectors in your region and what you might do about that. Or, if you’re an investor, you can identify the most promising start-ups for investment right now using some of the proprietary algorithms.

“The Dealroom-powered Glasgow Tech Ecosystem Platform has benefits for many different players and, if we continue to build momentum around different use cases for different sectors and showcase increased investment success, it really will fly!”


‘Shop window’ to highlight the city’s flourishing tech sector

WE may only be approaching September but 2023 is already shaping up to be a record year for investment in Glasgow-wide companies, with the amount received to date already surpassing the total for 2021, itself a record-breaking year.

“Even for a small selection of notable start-ups and scale-ups from the Glasgow City Region to have attracted investment recently, provides a flavour of the incredible variety of different companies, sectors, technologies and levels of funding involved,” notes Gavin Smyth, Tech Ecosystem Manager at Glasgow City Council.

While the increased funding levels may not be the direct result of firms engaging with the Dealroom platform, the overall visibility and success rate underlines the importance of working collectively at a city region level and having a ‘shop window’ to showcase different aspects of the tech ecosystem – especially when supported by credible and live data.

“We are now in a position to shine a bright light on some amazing success stories and drive increased visibility, nationally and especially internationally,  and ultimately, attract further investment to enhance Glasgow’s reputation as a growing tech hub.”

Smyth is keen to highlight much of this work is being driven out of the Digital Economy team within Glasgow City Council, whose role remains pivotal in ensuring the city region continues to attract and grow the required digital foundations, including skills, innovation environment, tech-enabled businesses, connectivity and infrastructure.

This mission is fully aligned to the national Government-commissioned Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review, a central objective of which is to attract and funnel investment to strengthen and grow the ‘market-square’ for technology ecosystems.

Anne McLister, Head of Digital Economy at Glasgow City Council, points out: “As Scotland’s biggest city, Glasgow offers vast potential for businesses to tap into, including access to an abundance of talent, collaborative networks, and flourishing tech and creative communities.”



Firefish Software
Funding round: £4m

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Thanks to the success of its pioneering recruitment software, Firefish has secured £4 million in strategic investment, led by the Foresight Group.

The company, founded in 2010, enables recruitment agencies in 25 countries to streamline candidate attraction and placements, while facilitating smoother compliance and reporting.

Firefish says it’s now ready for the next step in its growth, with the new partnership providing capital to invest in products and people, while expanding its commercial capabilities and reach.

Solasta Bio
Funding round: £4m SEED

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Thanks to Pre-Series A funding worth £4 million, Solasta Bio is now focused on expanding its UK and US operations to target new markets for its eco-friendly insect control agents. 

This will involve growing its technical and commercial teams – a move that will create 25 new jobs – and accelerating the development of its technology platform. 

The ultimate aim is to provide more effective crop protection, while preserving pollinating insects such as bees.

It recently appointed Paula Pinto as Chief Strategy Officer to head up its US operations.
The investment, led by Yield Lab Europe, along with Cavallo Ventures, SIS Ventures, Rubio Impact Ventures, UKI2S, and private entities, includes grant support from Scottish Enterprise and Innovate UK’s Transforming Food Production competition.

Funding round: €40m SERIES C

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Food technology start-up ENOUGH has raised €40 million in a Series C funding round, which was co-led by venture capital firm World Fund and food tech investor CPT Capital.
Strathclyde University’s spin-out was co-founded by Jim Laird, Strathclyde alumnus, and Craig Johnston, former industry director of the CMAC Future Manufacturing Research Hub.

The innovative company produces ABUNDA, a mycoprotein that contains all essential amino acids, is high in dietary fibre and can be transformed into alternative meat, seafood and dairy products.

The new funding means ENOUGH will now be able to expand teams in its offices in Glasgow and London, while upscaling capacity at a first-of-its-kind protein factory in Sas van Gent in the Netherlands.

Sensors/Imaging: Novosound
Funding round: £3.7m EARLY VC

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This ultrasound sensor specialist has signed a commercial partnership agreement with PAVmed, the Nasdaq-listed diversified medical technology company, having secured a £3.7 million funding round led by Par Equity and supported by Foresight Group, Kelvin Capital, and Scottish Enterprise. 

As well as helping its mission to develop technology in intravascular imaging, the deal boosts Novosound’s move into healthcare and its regional expansion into North America. 

The firm’s patented thin-film manufacturing process, which eliminates conventional limitations in ultrasound sensors including the high cost of high-resolution imaging, also underpins its pioneering non-destructive testing products: the Kelpie, Belenus and Nebula.