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Inside Story: How did Tech Tour’s Deep Tech event begin?  

Deep Tech is one of the leading programmes organized by Tech Tour that gives an excellent overview of the deep tech sector in Europe. Curiously enough, it was inspired and initiated by 2 of our long-term partners 5 years ago. Just before its 6-th edition, we decided to interview Pietro Strada, Managing Partner at Silverpeak and Paul Gillespie, MD Global Deep Tech at SH Gillamor Stephens and learn how it all came to be. 

In case you are interested in the upcoming edition of Deep Tech, you can see the participants and register here.  


Q: Introduce yourself and tell us more about your current position and company? 

Paul: I am Paul Gillespie, MD Global Deep Tech at SH Gillamor Stephens, part of Sheffield Haworth a global talent acquisition and development business. Gillamor Stephens was built as a London boutique serving Europe and the US for 16 years before we were acquired by Sheffield Haworth allowing us to build into their global footprint. Our team are now in London, Shanghai, Singapore, New York, and Los Angeles.  

I am an Electronics Engineer that worked in oil exploration, then data comms for a major bank and then ‘fell’ into recruitment. After learning the trade, I have built and sold two businesses and understand all the pains of start-up and scale-up, specifically lying awake at 3am thinking about cashflow! 

Pietro: I am the Managing Partner at Silverpeak. We advise companies on financial transactions, such as M&A and financing. Our clients are mostly growth-stage companies. We focus exclusively on the technology sector, which we divide into three segments: software, Deep Tech and services. Deep Tech represents an important portion of our revenues. 

Paul: What do I do? I have always worked in deep tech, even when it was the ‘poor relation’ of the venture world! Working with research institutions, universities and venture capital companies building the exec teams and board for disruptive technology companies. The best news is investors have recognised the importance of deep tech over the last 7 years with proper high funding rounds that enable businesses to achieve their goals and not just be sold off quickly as they can’t raise a B-round.  


Q: Why are you passionate about Deep Tech? 

Paul: With all respect to the wider tech world, there is nothing more exciting than deep tech. We literally don’t know what innovative technology we will be exposed to when the phone rings! At this moment in time, we are working with brain-computer interfaces, rocket ships, nuclear fusion, photonics, and satellite constellations and even had the chance to pitch our deep tech credentials to a panel at NATO HQ this week!  

Pietro: I have an engineering background (in microelectronics and optoelectronics) and have always been passionate about Deep Tech. I am also a competitive athlete and overcoming challenges excites me. Working with companies and entrepreneurs that tackle big problems with their products and IP is my dream job! And my background gives me a better understanding and an advantage when representing Deep Tech clients in the deals. 


Q: Since when have you been part of the Tech Tour Community? 

Paul: We have worked with Tech Tour for over ten, maybe fifteen years, initially with the Nordic Venture Forum and then becoming more involved with the broader programmes. I think Pietro Strada, Silverpeak, and I started to propose the idea of a Deep Tech Summit to William Stevens 5 or 6 years ago as the community was so underserved by events. And before Covid, I think we were in the third year of DTS with 250+ attendees and 40+ presenting companies! 

Pietro: I think that my first Tech Tour was in 2004, but I have been to so many Tech Tour events that am not sure anymore. 


Q: Since when are you part of the team for the Deep Tech event? 

Pietro: Since the first one: we contributed to the idea of launching an event focused on Deep Tech, and have been sponsors ever since. 

Paul: Since the first one.  


Q: As far as I know, you were the initiators behind the Deep Tech event who discussed the idea with William (William Stevens, Group Managing Director, Tech Tour) and helped create the Deep Tech event which later became the Deep Tech programme. Can you tell me more about how it came to be? 

Paul: Pietro and I talked about the array of events that were out there, many were labelled Technology, but were just software. We were keen to build a showcase for deep tech and when we sat down with William he bought into the idea. Silverpeak and Gillamor Stephens were sponsors for the first, and subsequent, events and helped Tech Tour build the agenda. 

And now 5/6 years later there is the Tech Tour Deep Tech Summit as well as standalone events for Photonics, Space, Hydrogen etc. I am really looking forward to the event being in Leuven this year, hosted at IMEC, and right at the heart of Europe. After Covid, it will be great to have everyone in the room again. So much more productive. 


Q: What are the companies you are supporting in Deep Tech? 

Pietro: We work with many Deep Tech companies and have invited two dozen of strong candidate companies from all over Europe to the coming Deep Tech Tech Tour. Over the last few years, we have advised outstanding Deep Tech clients, such as CRP Technology, Rovco, D-Orbit, All.Space, V-Nova, Effect Photonics and more. 

Paul: ICEYE has been a client now for over 5 years and represents everything we do from hiring into pretty much every function, opening new offices and supporting their phenomenal success - $350m+ raised, 21 satellites on orbit and fast-growing revenues. Other compelling companies include CoMind, brain-computer interfaces; Orbex, rocket ship; First Light Fusion; PoroTech; changing the microLED display sector; ATLANT3D; atom by atom, 3D printing. The list goes on and all our clients have a ‘wow’ factor. 


Q: What attracted you to the companies you work with? 

Pietro: We work with clients that we believe are going to be successful in executing their strategic plan, which may involve a financing or M&A transaction. Invariably they are led by an extraordinary senior team (CEOs, founders, C-level suite, Board directors). Among the other key indicators of success, we look at their: 

· Target market and customer segmentation 

· Traction with customers and commercial pipeline 

· Core technology and IP 

· Differentiation from the competition 

· Execution plan and track record 


Q: Thank you very much Paul and Pietro for devoting time to this interview.  


In case you are interested in taking part in the Deep Tech live event, it will take place on 9 & 10 November in Leuven, Belgium. See the participants and register here. 


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