UK IT Association (UKITA)

London, 11 October 2011: Cisco, in partnership with Birmingham Science Park Aston (BSPA) and Keiretsu Forum (KF), is today launching the International Investment Forum (IIF). The IIF will, for the first time, enable international investors to be able to see, discuss and evaluate new companies with serious growth potential in multiple markets face-to-face, without the need to travel.

The IIF is built on Cisco’s Global Exchange for Growth (GXG) initiative, BSPA’s iCentrumTM concept of the “Science Park Without Walls” and Keiretsu Forum’s international network. It utilises the latest collaborative technologies, including video communications platforms such as Cisco’s TelePresence.

The IIF has been developed to connect entrepreneurs looking for funds to a global network of investors – the model will help to pioneer cross-border and intercontinental investment opportunities.

The inaugural IIF demonstration event, taking place on 11 October 2011, will revolve around a live meeting of the Keiretsu Forum, where investors around the world will hear early stage investment pitches from entrepreneurs based in Birmingham and London. The KF, BSPA and tech City Investment Organisation have previously collaboratedto identify, pre-screen and select these entrepreneurs. Participants will join the meeting from a variety of global locations including London, Birmingham, Paris, San Francisco, Seattle, Pleasanton and San Jose.

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 KF, Cisco is pioneering a model of “innovation hubs without walls” that supports cities and regions as the nucleus for economic growth and impacts growth acceleration.”

The IIF is closely aligned with the UK Government’s innovation and growth agenda, and David Willets, Minister of State for Universities and Science, will open the first meeting with a keynote speech from Cisco’s London City office. The IIF also integrates with Cisco’s British Innovation Gateway (BIG) programme.

Smith continues, “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.”

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, “The International Investment Forum is an exciting and innovative development. Linking up entrepreneurs and investors across the world will help to bring new products to market more quickly and efficiently than ever before.”

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, so enhancing the chances of British entrepreneurs and innovators delivering their aspirations. Our fledgling start-up businesses need to connect with like-minded people, such thatany gaps in knowledge, talent, or funding can be filled through this global connectivity.”

Randy Williams, Founder & CEO Keiretsu Forum (KF), concludes, “When I started Keiretsu Forum ten years ago, it was my dream to create a cross-border investment model to benefit entrepreneurs and investors. Today, with the creation of our partnership with Cisco and Birmingham, we can connect investors and entrepreneurs via the Internet accessing intellectual capital and financial capital in key markets bringing Keiretsu Forum to global leadership in a new investment paradigm. This is an exciting collaborative breakthrough for business angel organisations and science parks, and it has come to fruition through Cisco’s leadership. We are honoured to be part of this initiative.”

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