ESpark chief calls for free entrepreneur support

ESpark chief Jim Duffy called for support for entrepreneurs. Picture: Neil Hanna

ESpark chief Jim Duffy called for support for entrepreneurs. Picture: Neil Hanna

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FREE support for entrepreneurs should be available in every major city across the UK to help boost job creation and economic activity, according to the head of business accelerator network Entrepreneurial Spark (ESpark).

Jim Duffy, speaking at the group’s inaugural “Can Do” assembly in Glasgow yesterday, also said ESpark is on course to ramp up expansion after venturing south of the Border.

He said: “This month we welcomed 80 budding entrepreneurs to our brand-new Birmingham accelerator and we are set to open a further seven this year. I’d love to see a free business incubator in every major city by 2020 – entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the economy and their passion, innovation and commitment should be supported and cultivated.”

First set up in Glasgow in 2012, ESpark subsequently opened additional “hatcheries” in Ayrshire and Edinburgh. To date, those three sites have supported 350 fledgling entrepreneurs in the creation of more than 1,000 jobs.

The expansion follows a five-year multi-million pound partnership with Royal bank of Scotland to support new accelerators as well as other award and development programmes.

Each accelerator has an “entrepreneur in residence” to provide expert advice. Lord Willie Haughey, Sir Tom Hunter and Ann Gloag support the Glasgow, Ayrshire and Edinburgh sites respectively.

“Entrepreneurship is fundamental to the Scottish economy and we must do all that we can to support its acceleration and development,” Hunter said at yesterday’s assembly.

“Scotland has led the way with the likes of ESpark and Scottish Edge; we need to keep leading day-in day-out by driving collaboration, partnership and innovation in support of entrepreneurs.”

ESpark puts would-be entrepreneurs through a series of challenges over five months designed to ensure that those who emerge at the other end are capable of running high-growth businesses. Its focus is on developing individuals rather than specific business ideas.

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