Slot 4

Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Colin Adams, University of Edinburgh, UK


The Course will give an overview of the nature of technology based Innovation, how technology evolves, develops markets and how different forms of value can be generated through this. It will cover entrepreneurship and the major elements to be considered in starting up, developing and funding a new venture to further exploit it. The intention is to allow participants to consider their research output in a broader, market facing, context and explore what might be the best route for them to take their findings and insights forward for external application in the future. If there is time on the final day, attendants will be invited to pitch any ideas they have for feedback from the group.

- Session 1: The nature of technology based Innovation. A brief history of technology. How to identify opportunities. Disruptive or incremental approaches. Technology based IP and how it may be protected.

- Session 2: Business types and business models, which one you should apply. The lean approach in testing ideas and bringing them to the market. Support communities.

- Session 3: Factors to be covered in business planning; building value propositions, Identifying customer types, channels to customers, key resources and partners, costs, revenues. Developing a Business Plan. Team Building. Communicating ideas and pitching.

- Session 4: Raising Investment, Investor types and timing, scaling up, continued education and resources, pitching session.


Colin was a member of the first graduating cohort in Computer Science at Edinburgh University in 1971. He then joined the Department as a junior lecturer, completing his Doctorate and post Doc research.

He then moved in 1979 to Digital Equipment Corporation in the USA, where he moved from the research team to managing various elements of the development of VAX/VMS operating system. He returned to the UK to run DEC’s world-wide Office Automation business and the All-In-1 product line which he drove to $1.2Bn in revenues.

From that he moved into Electronic Design Automation and silicon, as one of the founders of European Silicon Structures. ES2 raised $50M for their A-round in 1985 - one of the largest A-round investments in Europe at that time. He was also a founder of US Silicon Structures and EuCAD. He sold EuCAD to Cadence Design Systems in 1990, and managed various Cadence businesses, finally running the TALITY Management buy out.

After a brief attempt at retiring he returned to the School of Informatics at University of Edinburgh in 2006 as Director of Commercialisation, running the ProspeKT program focusing on generating start-ups out of that talent pool. Over his 10 years there, the School generated over 70 spin-outs and start-ups that have raised over $250M in equity investment. He also instigated the entrepreneurship programs for the Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Research pool of 14 universities and founded Engage, Invest, Exploit – now one of the largest technology investment conferences in the UK.

He retired in September 2016 and acts as a mentor to various groups: he is a non-executive director for a number of local start-ups and serves on several advisory boards. In November 2016 he was awarded Edinburgh University’s Principal’s medal for services to the university and wider community.

Colin holds a BSc in Computer Science and Mathematics and a PhD in Computer Science, both from the University of Edinburgh.

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