FIVE of Scotland's key enterprise groups will today join forces to issue a public "call to action" to tackle Scotland's lacklustre levels of entrepreneurship.
In an open letter, the Entrepreneurial Exchange, Saltire Foundation, Scottish Institute for Enterprise, Young Enterprise Scotland and Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust (PSYBT) call on First Minister Alex Salmond's government to implement a National Entrepreneurial Action Plan.
They argue that government should push through the plan under the leadership of an experienced entrepreneur such as Sir Tom Hunter or energy tycoon Bob Keiller, who last year sold Production Services Network to Wood Group for $955 million (597m).
The campaign is a response to a shock study last week which claimed Scotland is home to a "lost generation" of entrepreneurs in their mid-30s and early 40s. It also unearthed a much greater disinterest in entrepreneurship among young Scots than young people living in other parts of the UK.
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The five groups admit the report by Strathclyde University's Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) was "undoubtedly disappointing". But instead of "casting blame and bemoaning our fate" Scotland should take dramatic actions now.
They write: "The stakes are high. By creating a vibrant entrepreneurial economy we will ensure a bright economic future - more jobs, more wealth creation, more tax take. But also it enhances our ability as a country to solve deeply-embedded social problems. Now is the time more than ever."
They argue that Scotland has the talent and a lot of good work is being done to encourage entrepreneurial activity among young people. But a "joined-up, holistic" plan bringing together business leaders, not-for-profit groups and policymakers would "create a chain of entrepreneurial developments from primary school right through to the seasoned entrepreneur". It adds: "It is imperative that this does not become a drawn-out governmental process, but is directed by our proven business leaders such as Sir Tom Hunter and Entrepreneurial Exchange chairman Bob Keiller."
The bleak findings of the GEM report came as a shock to many business groups which have been encouraged by the successes of a number of young entrepreneurs in their late-20s to early-40s.
The enterprise groups argue that all stakeholders - including the media - need to celebrate and promote the success stories and not keep falling back on the "usual suspects".