Scotland's next generation of entrepreneurs go for growth

Some of the 20 participants of the programme. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Some of the 20 participants of the programme. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Twenty entrepreneurs with early stage companies are celebrating their successes following a year-long programme overseen by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Selected last June following a competitive process, the Unlocking Ambition Enterprise Fellows received £25,000 to £50,000 in maintenance grants plus £20,000 to work full-time on developing and scaling their business ideas and unlock their ambition.

The year-long programme of funding, training, mentorship and academic support was provided by the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s (RSE) Unlocking Ambition Enterprise Fellowship scheme funded by the Scottish Government.

In that first year, the early stage companies have employed more than 50 people, appointed 37 new board members, secured over 2,700 customers, contracts and users, negotiated 16 investment deals and won 19 award nominations.

The budding businesses include an insect breeding company creating high performance genetics for the insects-as-feed industry, a social enterprise that gifts bespoke clothing parcels to women in clothing crisis, and a start-up that has created a digital companion to support carers of people living with dementia.

Professor Dame Anne Glover, RSE president, said: "Scotland has a global reputation for innovation, and we need to maintain that entrepreneurial spirit. It’s vital that we have a sustainable approach to supporting start-ups that create high quality jobs, boost the Scottish economy and change lives through new ideas.

"The RSE’s Unlocking Ambition Enterprise Fellowship was designed with those goals in mind and participants have grasped the opportunity, with some fantastic results after just 12 months.

"Time, money, and expert advice and guidance are key to turning a bright idea into a viable business with long-term potential and our programme has offered all of these to early-stage businesses with masses of potential.

"These companies are the employers of tomorrow, innovating for the future, and we have helped them to take huge strides forward in their growth journey towards being Scotland’s business success stories."

Unlocking Ambition is a £4 million challenge fund created by the Scottish Government as part of the programme for government, "A Nation with Ambition".