Scotland must 'normalise entrepreneurship' to boost scale-up activity, says former Skyscanner chief

A former Skyscanner chief has argued that Scotland must normalise entrepreneurship in society and throughout the education system if the country is to achieve greater start-up and scale-up success.

Mark Logan, former chief operating officer at the Edinburgh-founded flight and travel search business, was appointed by the Scottish Government as the country’s first chief entrepreneur earlier this year.

Addressing the annual EIE22 tech investor conference, Logan said that while he believes entrepreneurial potential is “latent in us all”, a more “systems-based approach” is required. He believes the roll-out of Tech Scaler hubs in seven locations across Scotland is a key component of that approach.

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On the subject of higher education, Logan argued that while Scotland’s universities are world-class in teaching and research, they need to do better at entrepreneurship to “complete the triangle”. He also expressed his belief that by co-locating industry sectors like life sciences and creative industries with internet-economy technology companies, greater scale-up success will follow.

Mark Logan, Scotland's chief entrepreneur, was one of EIE22's keynote speakers. Picture: Startup Grind Scotland
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Logan and Scottish Enterprise’s recently appointed chief executive Adrian Gillespie, who spoke later in the conference, concurred on the importance of securing more international investment into the Scottish start-up scene, something both admitted was high on the agenda at governmental level.

“Keep watching Scotland”, Logan added, “because great things are happening, and great things will follow.”

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Entrepreneur and investor Ana Stewart, chair of the Women in Enterprise Review, or Stewart Review, a report that is being co-authored with Logan, reiterated her belief that Scotland can bring about transformative change when it comes to moving the dial on gender imbalance.

The other main keynote talk was by Hannah Jones, chief executive of The Earthshot Prize, an organisation founded by the Prince of Wales and the Royal Foundation in 2020 to search, spotlight, and scale solutions that can repair and regenerate the planet in the current decade.

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Overall, 39 start-ups pitched to investors across the UK and beyond on the day, including eight extended pitches to investor panels.

The EIE Investor Readiness Programme, which is delivered by the University of Edinburgh’s Bayes Centre, has helped some 540 companies raise more than £1.1 billion since 2008.

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