ENTREPRENEUR SUMMER 13 ON A MISSION TO CREATE A HEALTHIER WORLD Martin Velasco believes that Scotland has a lead in tackling global disease. He’s not a doctor nor a professor of chemistry, but a European business figure and an angel investor. He has an impressive CV. He is an engineer with an MBA from INSEAD who is chairman of AC Immune, a Swiss drug development company and one of the leaders in innovative therapies fighting to combat Alzheimer’s Disease; the founder and chairman of the Infantia Foundation, an organisation aiding children in the developing world; he’s also involved with In Vivo Fertilisation to help couples have safer babies. If that was not enough, he is also the chairman of two of Scotland’s most scalable companies in the sphere of Big Data analytics, now a hot topic for business. These companies are Sumerian and Aridhia, based in Edinburgh. Martin Velasco feels strongly that it is imperative that Scotland, which is already a hub for outstanding life sciences, flexes its muscle on the global stage. “Where is Scotland going to build its competitive advantage? Where should we [referring to Scotland] develop leadership in the market? If you analyse this, there are not many areas where countries have a natural advantage over others. For example, Switzerland has finance and insurance, with UBS and Zurich, pharmaceuticals, machine tools, but if the country wanted to enter, for example, nano-technology, this is very specific, and it costs a lot of money and investment.” “When you think about what Aridhia is doing, which is bio-informatics, I believe there are the inherent skills, expertise and capacity in Martin Velasco is the Swiss businessman who has the long-term interests of two Scottish companies at heart. He talks about how the country can leverage its lead in Big Data IT and healthcare to build more world-class companies, such as Aridhia and Sumerian. He speaks to BQ Scotland editor Kenny Kemp Scotland in terms of healthcare and clinical work. There is the medical side and the IT side, so combining the two is a natural path for Scotland to develop this new and important industry. When we want to do something with a purpose, it is not just about making money but bringing something to society in terms of building strength and becoming world leaders. This is something that we want to apply to both Sumerian and Aridhia,” he says. Asked about the importance of building companies of scale in Scotland, Martin Velasco is clear that Europe is different >> When we want to do something with a purpose it’s not just about making money but bringing something to society in terms of building strength and becoming world leaders BUSINESS QUARTER | SUMMER 13 38