In Game of Thrones, the castle of Winterfell is the independent stronghold in the North.

Fittingly, some parts of Winterfell were filmed in Scotland and in terms of angel investing, startups and innovation the land beyond (Hadrian’s) Wall is certainly formidable.

Experienced angel groups such as Archangels, Par Equity and Equity Gap combine with a supportive ecosystem which includes public sources of gap funding such as the Scottish Investment Bank and university-industry accelerators like Wayra in the Bayes Centre.

Building on our successful event at J.P. Morgan Private Bank in Edinburgh last year, ESAC partnered with leading law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn to deliver our 2nd ‘Invest and Connect’ event in the Scottish capital.  A special thanks goes to Tom Swan, Partner, and his team for their help in delivering the event as well as Oliver Mahr from Deutsche Börse Venture Network for sponsoring.

In his introduction, ESAC President Berthold Baurek-Karlic compared the selection of startups with finding the perfect whisky. This is not always an easy task, depends a lot on personal taste but can be the most rewarding thing you do in life. He emphasised the message that the European Super Angels Club is eager to connect and co-invest with local angel syndicates to increase the size of rounds available to startups and so improve their chances of scaling across Europe.

Scots know that all whiskies are made from fermented grain mash but the taste varies tremendously. The same is true for our startups: all pitching businesses make use of artificial intelligence (AI) but the use cases are so different that there was something for everyone.

VT Fintech is building a solution for fund managers to track the value and performance of equity research.  Newsadoo is building a ‘Spotify’ for the newspaper industry and Kompany provides real-time access to official and audit-proof commercial register information, including company filings covering more than 100 million companies in 150+ jurisdictions

Our jury members consisting of from Pentech Ventures LLP, Paul Funnell from Scottish Enterprise Investment Bank, Andrew Veitch from Machine Labs grilled our startups with product, go-to-market and financial questions as well as offering wisdom on how to avoid some of the pitfalls common to all entrepreneurs.

Our eventual winner was Casta Spes Technologies (CST), the brainchild of two young engineers who have developed a mechanical guard which autonomously patrols the perimeter, thereby enhancing existing security systems for a fraction of the cost.  Physical security is close to the heart of the two founders, as both their families have roots in Zimbabwe.  At the moment, CST are working with the Scottish accelerator Seedhaus to get their prototype ready for the market.  We recognised the huge market potential and believe we can connect them with the right partners in Europe. As the winner of our UK pitch competition they will be present at our finals in Vienna on June 17th.

We are already looking forward to returning to the UK in the autumn to continue our relationship with this fascinating ecosystem.