Daniel Broby

University of Strathclyde

An academic from one of the world's leading business schools talks spin-outs and start-ups

Daniel is the Director of the Centre for Financial Regulation and Innovation (CeFRI) at the University of Strathclyde. They focus largely on Fintech and public outreach. Academics associated with CeFRI investigate areas such as Blockchain, machine learning, distributed database and time series. They’re a global leader in Fintech.

"The world has changed"

For the current crisis – our focus is now on supply chain resilience. Companies need to adapt faster. The world has changed – for example, we’re already re-configuring lecture halls. There’s a huge change in outcomes.

"The university is 100% online and beyond the emergency we’ll learn new lessons. UX is likely to go to the top of our priorities."

For spin-outs the technology is developed within the university. We offer funding to commercialise the ideas. At the Strathclyde we assign the intellectual property to a company for a commercial interest. The terms are important – other universities take a big equity stake.

To disrupt markets we need more lateral thinking – new projects based on real world problems. There are always new opportunities: how will Covid-19 change people’s behaviour? A student who has a PhD skills in, say, satellite data analysis may have an advantage.

Start-up challenges

Bright people with good ideas don’t get business planning, incentivsing their teams, taking on equity and other issues. Ideas have to be sustainable. There are also capital challenges – Scotland only has a quarter the available capital of London.

Start-ups can be data-led or customer-focused. They need to scale up but will meet challenges – they must think through their business model. They need to define an MVP, cover their costs and get to the next stage.

Capital-short companies are entrepreneurial. They’ll use techniques and re-invent themselves faster. The UK tends to be more efficient than the USA considering it enjoys less investment.

Research at Strathclyde

We’re developing a data lake (data loch) on a super-computer. Companies will be able to test ideas against bank account datasets. For example, they can model how an interest rate change can affect things. It’s an academic approach, we’re a university!

We help companies with ‘quant’ data approach – including questionnaires, Likert scoring and textual analysis – we devise outcomes based on what the company is trying to do.

For start-ups we put a call out for student-led ideas. They must be scalable. Some have conceptual flaws – for example, peer-to-peer lending is already being done! Our students tend to scatter after graduation so we’ll probably see fewer start-ups.