Next generation of Scots tycoons needed to take on the world

Geoff Mawdsley launched Reform Scotland's new book. Picture: Dan Phillips
Geoff Mawdsley launched Reform Scotland's new book. Picture: Dan Phillips
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Scotland must do more to find the next generation of Tom Hunters and Michelle Mones to match the entrepreneurial drive of the far east tiger economies, according to one of the country’s most senior business figures.

Sandy Kennedy, chief executive of Entrepreneurial Scotland, says the nation is already beating other major European countries like France, Italy and Spain.

But he warned: “We need to do more to match the performance of countries such as Singapore, Australia, Canada and Qatar.”

A call is now being launched for Scotland to become the most entrepreneurial society in the world and it is hoped the example of people Sir Tom Hunter and Baroness Mone can inspire a new generation of business leaders.

Mr Kennedy said: “While Scotland has a strong reputation for the quality of its education, we have some way to go to close the gap in Total Early Stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA Rate) with other parts of the world. TEA measures the percentage of individuals aged 18-64 in an economy who are in the process of starting or are already running a new business. Scotland’s TEA rate compares favourably with Ireland, Sweden and is ahead of France, Italy, Spain and Denmark but we need to do more to match the performance of countries such as Singapore, Australia, Canada and Qatar.

“We believe Scotland can do it. At Entrepreneurial Scotland we’re working hard to join the dots – connecting and collaborating with people who are already entrepreneurial, and can work with us to get more people thinking and talking about entrepreneurial ism.

“This work often starts with a conversation about what has inspired very successful, high profile business leaders who have started and grown their own businesses. Most of us will be able to think of examples of individuals that are in the public eye because they have come up with a compelling business idea and successfully converted this into a highly profitable business. And that is, of course, the traditional vision of what it is to be an entrepreneurial.”

The call to make call to make Scotland the most entrepreneurial society in the world comes in his contribution to a new book from think tank Reform Scotland which is being published in the new year. Reforming Scotland is a collection of essays from a range of figures from inside and outside politics, setting a new agenda for the nation.

Baroness Mone was recently appointed a business tsar by the UK government with a view to promoting more start-ups, while Sir Tom last year invested £700,000 of his own money into a new fund to help early-stage Scottish entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Geoff Mawdsley, Reform Scotland’s director, said: “There is no-one better qualified to make the case for a step change in our national ambition to build an entrepreneurial society than Sandy.

“His contribution to Reforming Scotland will challenge this generation of leaders to prioritise the building of a world-leading focus on entrepreneurialism.”