A Timeline of Spin-out Success: Innovation Involves Many Hands

Prof Bill Buchanan OBE
7 min readNov 6, 2020

Don’t let anyone kid you that the success of Apple is down to Steve Jobs, or that the success of Amazon is down to Jeff Bezos. It is down to lots of smart people. People with vision. Great technical people. Great business people. People with ideas. People who know how to lead. People who can implement things. People who can sell things. People that can spot great talent. People that allow people to do great work. People who match problems to products. People who know how to find money. People who know how to control money. People who can spot an opportunity and make maximum use it. For this I must quote Professor Linda Hill:

And so the technology industry in Scotland gained a recent significant success with the Ping Identity Corporation acquiring Symphonic Software. The spin-out company from Edinburgh Napier University perhaps showcases the first-class innovation infrastructure within Scotland, and highlights the pipeline of academic research into the creation of an internationally-leading company:

It is not the creation of any one person, but the work of many. My passion for decades has been on creating citizen-focused health care systems — and it still is. I directly observed the weaknesses within health care around the lack of citizen integration and it has driven our research for over a decade. The work of Symphonic was sparked from this, and it involved people who could see a vision of a more trusted world based on rights, ownership and governance. I had a small role in creating Symphonic Software, and where there were others who stepped forward to make the vision a reality. I will name them here, as they all deserve credit. For me, I know my place, and I know when to step away, and let others drive things forward.

The idea and the vision is fine, but you need to convert

My involvement was to lead a team of academic researchers to drive forward the vision, but it was the magic that happened after that, that really made this a success. To me, you can have great ideas, and great IP, but it needs to be converted into something that is…

Prof Bill Buchanan OBE

Professor of Cryptography. Serial innovator. Believer in fairness, justice & freedom. Based in Edinburgh. Old World Breaker. New World Creator. Building trust.