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Birmingham Science Park Aston partners with Cisco and Keiretsu Forum to connect entrepreneurs and global investors - B'ham News - UK IT Association (UKITA)

UK IT Association (UKITA)

Entrepreneurs at Birmingham Science Park Aston (BSPA) will be able to link directly to top international investors from around the world, thanks to a pioneering initiative launched last night (Tuesday 11th October).

The International Investment Forum (IIF) has been created through a partnership between BSPA, global communications giant Cisco and the Keiretsu Forum, the world’s largest angel investment organisation, founded in 2000 in the United States which now has over 750 members globally.

Made possible through Cisco’s cutting-edge TelePresence video communications technology and Global Exchange for Growth (GXG) network, the IFF will, for the first time, enable international investors to be able to see, discuss and evaluate new companies offering serious growth potential, without the need to travel.

The IIF creates a perfect synergy both with Keiretsu Forum’s international investor network, and BSPA’s iCentrumTM ‘science parks without walls’ model, which can connect investors and fledgling businesses regardless of geographic boundaries.

The IIF is also closely aligned with the UK Government’s innovation and growth agenda and Cisco’s British Innovation Gateway (BIG) programme. David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science, launched the initiative with a keynote speech broadcast through TelePresence from Cisco’s London City office, with Councillor Mike Whitby, Leader, Birmingham City Council and Chairman of BSPA, responding from Birmingham via the science park’s Ideas and Communications Suite with DR David Hardman, BSPA’s CEO.

Minister Willetts comments: “The IIF shows how Cisco and partners are pioneering the business of innovation and early-stage tech investing, opening up new cross-border opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors to connect, and breaking down traditional geographic and cost barriers.”

Councillor Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council and Chairman of BSPA, said: “The importance of initiatives such as these cannot be underestimated, as they will bring new equity investment into start-up and early stage ventures taking place in Birmingham and the West Midlands.”

Phil Smith, CEO Cisco UK&I, said: “Location and travel budgets are no longer a barrier to companies getting in front of the best and most appropriate investors. Through advances in the Internet and ICT opportunities now exist to bring multiple parties together via different forms of video collaboration and enable them to engage and do business. Alongside our partners BSPA and the Keiretsu Forum Cisco is pioneering an “innovation hubs without walls” concept that supports cities and regions as the nucleus for economic growth and impacts growth acceleration.

“Cisco is showing significant commitment to supporting the UK Government’s hi-tech growth and innovation agenda, particularly through its Olympic partnership and BIG programme. Through these initiatives Cisco intends to increase the level of foreign direct investment in the digital sector of the UK economy and enable hi-tech entrepreneurs to gain greater access to venture capital. The IIF is a tremendous step forward in achieving these goals.”

The launch also marked the inaugural demonstration of the IIF, which revolved around a live meeting of the Keiretsu Form, where investors located in their home nations around the world, heard early stage investment pitches from entrepreneurs based at BSPA and similar technology business incubators in London and Paris.

Dr David Hardman, CEO, Birmingham Science Park Aston (BSPA), said: “We believe that cooperation and collaboration across administrative and national boundaries promotes successful translation of technologies from concepts to commercial reality.

“By creating an offering that combines the virtual and the physical, we can bring this collaboration to a global level, thereby enhancing the chances of British entrepreneurs and innovators to meet their aspirations. Our fledgling start-up businesses need to connect with like-minded people, public and private sector bodies, with any gaps in knowledge, talent, or funding being filled through such global connectivity.”

Two of the four companies that presented in the investment forum which immediately followed the launch are from the West Midlands, having been collectively selected by BSPA, the Keiretsu Forum and the Tech-City, London-based incubator. They pitched to secure investment interest from business angels joined the session from a variety of global locations, including London, Paris, San Francisco, Seattle, Pleasantown and San Jose.

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