Backing Scotland's future change-makers - Fiona Godsman

We have so much raw talent here in Scotland waiting to write its name into an impressive history of entrepreneurship and innovation.

Scotland remains a leading location to kickstart ideas but we need to start shouting louder, says Godsman. Picture: John Devlin

Not only have our greatest minds routinely produced world-leading ideas in the past, but in 2020 we’re able to look to an incredible future in emerging sectors such as life sciences, space, tech, sustainability.

That’s thanks in part to our universities. Students undoubtedly make a significant contribution to Scotland’s growing status as a “can do” entrepreneurial nation. Those institutions represent an essential cog in the machine to nurture and encourage young entrepreneurs, and not just through education.

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Indeed, for the country to prosper and successful tackle global challenges, it’s essential that we harness and maximise real talent through dedicated channels – from incubators and accelerators, to specialist bodies supporting real innovation and entrepreneurs from the outset.

While every university has rising stars, we need to be better at identifying their potential and placing them in a wider cohort of budding entrepreneurs in order to grow and enhance our culture of enterprise.

They need to be connected to a wider entrepreneurial ecosystem and placed alongside peers in highly collaborative environments. Their raw talent must be exposed to new ways of thinking to fast track their development and fire their imagination.

Fundamentally, we must streamline the process of honing the next generation of great Scottish entrepreneurs and provide them with support that eventually leads to tangible products and meaningful business growth.

We absolutely must spot these individuals. After all, they will be the decision-makers sooner rather than later and we’ll be doing ourselves a disservice if we don’t give them the platform they need for their ideas to take root and grow.

At SIE, we specialise in giving entrepreneurs that platform – honing innovation skills, championing enterprise education, and providing free advice and workshops.

However, there must be a collective will to build a vibrant community that continues to produce a conveyer belt of talent.

Scotland remains a leading location to kickstart ideas – and is showing aptitude in the delivery of sustainable benefits that will eventually become part of a virtuous economy – but we need to start shouting louder.

Too often, modest Scots entrepreneurs don’t put themselves in the same league as international peers when in reality we find that they’re on a similar level or better. We need to start changing that perception if we are to secure greater recognition, and ultimately, investment.

Our aim should be nothing less than building the world’s most entrepreneurial-minded country, but that requires a mindset based on shared ambition, unified aims, and confidence in Scottish ability.

- SIE chief executive Fiona Godsman