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Sponsor interview: Stephen Coleman, CodeBase

Can you tell us a little about CodeBase and your role there?

CodeBase is the largest technology incubator in the UK. We help tech startups through mentorship, workshops, routes to investment, and building a solid community of people who love what they do and support each other. We've got over 80 companies with around 500 people; incubated companies have raised over $500m of investment, and we're in the process of expanding to multiple cities around the UK. I'm the CEO of CodeBase so my responsibilities cover everything from the handtowel budget to our overall growth strategy, but I have amazing staff who handle various aspects of the work. Their dedication and enthusiasm for what we're building is what makes it all possible.

What makes an ideal CodeBase tenant?

Community spirit and an enthusiasm for learning. Building tech products is really tough, but if you're open to good advice and willing to help others in their journey it makes the whole thing much easier. It doesn't matter which stage you're at, everyone has something to teach and something to learn.

What’s one of the best perks of being based at CodeBase?

Getting the right advice at the right time. Sometimes it's through mentorship, sometimes it happens during a 2 minute chat while waiting for a flat white. Every startup has its individual challenges, but there are so many transferable lessons to learn. The problem you've just discovered that's going to take you 18 months and £200k to solve has probably already been figured out by someone else; a quick chat at the right time can save a business.

How do you feel the relationship between creativity and technology has developed recently?

There's a massive overlap between creativity and technology, particularly in startups. The need for practical design skills is well known, but more importantly I think the creative mindset is crucial when it comes to building innovative tech products. The world of technology is advancing rapidly to the point where machines are now able to do the majority of "productivity" tasks previously done by humans. For example, many people are not aware that pilots in commercial aircraft now only fly for around 7 minutes: the rest is machine flown. Whilst robots may be better at productivity, humans are better at creativity and it is this ability that lies at the heart of startups.

Why is it important to support the Creative Edinburgh Awards and the city’s creative network?

I see creativity as the future of Scotland. The phrase "innovate or die" has never been more true across the globe, and the economies that thrive are those that embrace creativity and entrepreneurship. Scotland already punches above its weight when it comes to arts and innovation, but that position is at constant risk and we cannot afford to be complacent. Creative networks are crucial in this environment; CodeBase has seen huge benefit over the years from our ongoing partnership with Creative Edinburgh and the awards are a great way to showcase the quality of the creative industries here.

If CodeBase could be nominated for any award, real or imaginary, what would it be and why?

Most peanut butter consumed per staff member. Join us for our annual awards on November 10th; tickets available here.

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