Entrepreneur scheme firms raise £7m and create 50 jobs

The Unlocking Young Ambition cohort pictured earlier this year. Picture: Scottish Enterprise.
The Unlocking Young Ambition cohort pictured earlier this year. Picture: Scottish Enterprise.
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The businesses participating in entrepreneurial development programme Unlocking Ambition have raised £6.5 million since its launch, new figures have revealed.

The £4m, two-year initiative launched in July 2018, and is delivered by Scottish Enterprise and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, supporting entrepreneurs with the “talent, mindset and potential” to scale their firm, while boosting the Scottish economy.

Celia Hodson of Hey Girls with her awards. Picture: Scottish Enterprise.

Celia Hodson of Hey Girls with her awards. Picture: Scottish Enterprise.

The majority of the sum raised by the 40 businesses participating in the scheme has come from external funding, while more than 50 jobs have been created to date across the cohort, with more in the pipeline.

To date, a total of 59 new growth projects have been delivered and 19 new products or services have been developed by the 20 members of the Scottish Enterprise cohort.

Social impact plays a key role in the businesses, such as safeguarding those working on commercial vessels at sea.

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Glasgow-based Phox Water, for example, has developed a sustainable water filter with reusable cartridges in a bid to reduce single-use plastics.

Funding secured through the Unlocking Ambition programme has enabled the business to have the product fully manufactured in Scotland.

Opportunities

Additionally, Ayrshire-based property management company Pillow has hired a sales manager to let owner Scott Weir explore opportunities in the US.

The entrepreneurs have also been garlanded with various awards, with Celia Hodson of period poverty focused Hey Girls named Great British Entrepreneur of the Year, following in the footsteps of fellow Unlocking Ambition ambassador Alan Mahon of Brewgooder who won it for the Scotland and Northern Ireland region in 2018.

Mahon was invited earlier this year by President Barack Obama to his town hall meeting and Hodson addressed a House of Commons event on ending period poverty.

Institute of Directors Start Up Director of the Year went to John Robertson of drinks delivery firm Drinkly; Ayrshire Business of the Year to Pillow, Best Food & Drink Start Up at the Made in Scotland Awards to bottling firm Start-up Drinks Lab, for example.

The entrepreneurs have also mentored 30 college students in a partnership with Young Enterprise Scotland and Unlocking Ambition – Unlocking Young Ambition.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The Unlocking Ambition programme is already making a significant contribution to Scotland’s economy and wider society. The cohort’s achievements in the past year in attracting funding, creating jobs and delivering pioneering new products and services demonstrate the talent and enthusiasm of these entrepreneurs."