Sights set on creating the future for pioneers

Lynne Cadenhead of Women's Enterprise Scotland
Lynne Cadenhead of Women's Enterprise Scotland
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Scotland’s business advisers impatient to make support systems count

The movers and shakers of Scotland’s entrepreneurial community gathered at the Tolbooth in Stirling on 4 April for the third annual CAN DO Assembly, themed around Creating the Future.

Inspired by Abraham Lincoln’s quote, “the best way to predict the future is to create it”, the event brought together around 100 people from organisations which support entrepreneurship and innovation in Scotland.

Powerful messages were delivered by speakers Lynne Cadenhead of Women’s Enterprise Scotland, Andrew Dobbie of brand-led digital creative agency MadeBrave, Ewan Hunter of the Hunter Foundation and minister for business, innovation and energy Paul Wheelhouse MSP.

Wheelhouse announced a partnership between the Hunter Foundation and Entrepreneurial Scotland, supported by the Scottish Government, which will deliver a new scale-up leadership programme in response to evidence that Scotland needs to increase the number of scale-up companies in order to create more high-quality jobs, improve productivity and drive economic growth.

Drawing on experiences from her own entrepreneurial journey, Cadenhead shone the spotlight on the importance of female entrepreneurship, explaining how boosting the number of women in business not only makes sense in terms of equality but also in economic terms.

Rachael Brown, chief executive of the Cultural Enterprise Office, led a workshop with Clive Gillman of Creative Scotland and Sarah Drummond of design agency Snook on the theme of entrepreneurship in the creative industries.

With over 70,000 people working in the creative industries in Scotland and 87 per cent of highly creative jobs at low or no risk of automation, this is certainly a sector that lends itself to innovation and entrepreneurship.

“Most of the businesses we deal with would be described as ‘micro enterprises’ but some of the most successful enterprises are one or two people trading globally,” said Brown.

“We talk about micro enterprises having a macro impact.”

Brucie the Spider, a short animation inspired by the legend of Robert the Bruce and the persevering spider was premièred at the event. The clip was the result of a challenge put to animation students at Scotland’s colleges as a way of involving young people in spreading the CAN DO message.

Places of Potential formed the basis of another workshop intended to stimulate discussion around engaging with and supporting communities which traditionally are less associated with entrepreneurial activity.

“What this [the CAN DO Assembly] does is it starts a conversation amongst all those people who are interested in the impact entrepreneurship and an entrepreneurial mindset can have on Scotland,” said Sandy Kennedy, chief executive of Entrepreneurial Scotland, who chaired the assembly.

“That ranges from the impact it can have in terms of job creation and wealth creation but also in terms of societal aspects.”

He applauded the Scottish Government for its role as an enabler with the courage and confidence to support the shared vision while letting the ecosystem drive the agenda.

“People are moving from the conception to the practical and that’s a really good step,” he said.

“The word that came through at the end was ‘impatience’. There is a hunger and a desire to drive things forward and there is an impatience to see action.

“What next? We need to create a backbone that supports all those organisations to get on and do the things they need to do.”