More support for Sir Tom Hunter start-ups

Sir Tom Hunter's Entreprenurial Spark programme helps to 'incubate' start-up businesses. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Sir Tom Hunter's Entreprenurial Spark programme helps to 'incubate' start-up businesses. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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START-UP companies incubated by Sir Tom Hunter’s Entrepreneurial Spark programme are in line to receive further business support when they leave his “hatcheries”.

E-spark has signed a deal with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland, under which the organisation will offer its services to the 300 firms that pass through the incubator scheme each year.

Hunter set up E-spark in 2011 alongside Jim Duffy and Sir Willie Haughey, with incubation centres in Ayrshire and Glasgow offering advice and support to start-up companies.

A third “hatchery” was opened last year, in Edinburgh, under the leadership of Stagecoach co-founder Ann Gloag.

Peter Clark, chair of FSB’s recruitment arm, said: “The first time I walked through the doors of E-spark’s Glasgow hatchery, I was struck by the amount of energy, creativity and sheer hard graft in the room.

“We are really excited about helping these amazing businesses get off the ground and we look forward to welcoming them as full FSB members when they graduate and start trading.”

Lucy-Rose Walker, a senior member of the management team at E-Spark, added: “We rigorously select and demand a lot from our chiclets while they’re in the hatchery, but in return they receive an unrivalled level of support and expert help.

“We are delighted that this partnership with the FSB will give them free access to more of the key information they need to turn their concept into a going concern.”

Under the E-spark scheme, companies receive free mentoring, IT support and office space for five months.

In February, “big four” accountancy firm PwC announced that it would be offering free advice to “chiclets” within the incubation centres through a series of workshops.

Sixteen of the 18 start-ups that secured funding last month through the Scottish Government’s “Edge” fund came through the hatchery programme, with more than £700,000 being handed out in total to Scotland’s “brightest and most-innovative” young businesses. Haughey was among the Edge fund judges.