Private sector cash aims to plug start-up gap

Sir Tom Hunter said the initiative was designed to plug a funding gap for small companies. Picture: Dan Phillips
Sir Tom Hunter said the initiative was designed to plug a funding gap for small companies. Picture: Dan Phillips
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Hundreds more Scottish entrepreneurs will get access to funds to grow their businesses as Royal Bank of Scotland and Sir Tom Hunter’s Hunter Foundation invest £3.2 million in a Dragons’ Den-style support project.

The cash should transform Scottish Enterprise’s, putting it on a sustainable model that will see each generation of successful entrepreneurs funding the next.

Hunter said the initiative was designed to plug a funding gap for companies too young and small to be considered by the banks.

He said: “The Scottish Government came up with money in 2012 and it’s been running since then. Now we are putting in private sector money to ensure it carries on.”

RBS and the Hunter Foundation are putting in £2.5m and £700,000 respectively to develop and take it to a new level through to the end of 2017.

In turn, will immediately convert its current pure grant programme into a 50/50 loan and grant combination in order to move towards sustainability.

“Success will fund success, fellow entrepreneurs will reinvest for the next entrepreneur in line, it’s a near perfect model,” said Hunter, pictured.

He added: “Building growth companies in Scotland is fundamental to our economic and social future. This development neatly converts a government-led initiative to a private sector led programme of support, if you will ‘for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs’ and cements an excellent public private partnership.

“If one word summed up it’s ambition – we need to stretch our businesses, aim for high growth and internationalisation; Scotland leading the world and that’s where we should be.”

The programme, previously overseen by Scottish Enterprise, will be managed by a new charity – enabling additional fundraising – with an independent board of trustees.

With the Scottish Government’s £2.35m funding unchanged, the project now has £5.55m allocated up to 2017.

Applications are now live at for the next round of funding.

As well as that development, through strategic partnerships across a number of entrepreneurial support bodies, recipients of the scheme will have a range of extended support services, participate in a leadership education programme and become part of a Scottish entrepreneurial alumni initiative.

Any business that doesn’t qualify for financial support will in turn be supported to further develop their business with a view to reapplying for

RBS chief executive Ross McEwan said: “It is the drive and dynamism of Scotland’s entrepreneurs and small businesses that will help secure Scotland’s future economic prosperity.

“Hopefully this new funding will help turn many more innovative ideas into growing, thriving businesses, and ensure the Scottish enterprise 
eco-system continues to flourish.”