‘4,000 future leaders’ required for economic growth

Entrepreneurial Scotland is chaired by Chris Van Der Kuyl. Picture: Julie Bull
Entrepreneurial Scotland is chaired by Chris Van Der Kuyl. Picture: Julie Bull
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A NEWLY forged movement is looking to kickstart the next wave of economic growth in ­Scotland by reaching out to up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

Future Leaders is the first major initiative from Entrepreneurial Scotland, the organisation formed in September through the merger of the Entrepreneurial Exchange (Entex) and the Saltire Foundation.

We really need to reset the rules and do things in a different way

It aims to attract anyone, ­either within Scotland or internationally, who is interested in maximising the country’s financial muscle. To do this, Future Leaders is looking beyond the “usual suspects” in Scotland’s business community to the next generation of young entrepreneurs. This includes not only those who are starting up their own businesses, but anyone with “amazing ideas and passion”.

Entrepreneurial Scotland chairman Chris van der Kuyl was formerly head of Entex, which brought its 400 members into the merger. He said the new organisation will not achieve its aims by simply “just doing what we have done before”.

“To be honest, 400 is never going to be enough to really change Scotland,” he told Scotland on Sunday. “It doesn’t need to be 400, it needs to be 4,000, if not more than that.

“This has got to get so much wider, and so much bigger. We really need to reset the rules here and do things in a different way.”

Van der Kuyl, a veteran of Scotland’s video game industry, is also chairman of 4J Studios, the firm that developed the console versions of best-selling title Minecraft.

Future Leaders will launch on Wednesday at Edinburgh Castle, where the network’s five inaugural members – ­Kirsteen Stewart, Leah ­Hutcheon, Lisa Thomson, Michael Corrigan and Omari Whyne – will speak to an audience of 150 potential recruits about their aspirations to make Scotland the “most entrepreneurial” country on the planet.

Invitations to the paid-for event were sent to scholars and fellows of the Saltire Foundation, which continues to operate as a subsidiary of Entrepreneurial Scotland in its mission to mentor the next generation of business leaders. Participants from a range of other programmes, such as the Edge Fund, “Scotland Can Do”, PSYBT and Converge Challenge have also been invited in a bid to make the network all-encompassing.

In addition to conventional entrepreneurs such as ­Corrigan, who co-founded Trtl which markets and sells Sleepscarf, the network is keen to embrace other types of business people not traditionally thought of as entrepreneurs.

These are covered by membership categories such as “Creators”, “Doers”, “Intrapreneurs”, “Sellers” and “Social Entrepreneurs”.

Intrapreneurs, for example, are those employed by large organisations but who are given freedom to innovate within the workplace. Creators are the likes of Stewart, who runs her own design and retail business in Orkney.

“This is the first wave of the new things that are coming from Entrepreneurial Scotland,” van der Kuyl said. “We want to try and be as inclusive as we possibly can be.”

Entrepreneurial Scotland is currently planning other initiatives like Future Leaders. One key priority is to internationalise the operation further, and projects in mentoring are also being examined.

Some “big changes” will be unveiled at next month’s annual conference at Gleneagles Hotel, van der Kuyl said, with new programmes to be announced. “It is all about building Scotland into the most entrepreneurial society in the world, and we can’t do that by just doing what we have done before.”

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