Sir Tom Hunter and Lord Haughey among big-hitters backing business scale-up competition

Some of Scotland’s best-known entrepreneurs are pumping £1 million into what is billed as the UK’s biggest funding competition for potential high growth businesses.

Sir Tom Hunter, Sir Brian Souter, Kevin Dorren, James Watt, Lord and Lady Haughey, Chris van der Kuyl and Paddy Burns are among the individuals committing an additional £1m of grants and loans to the Scottish Edge initiative.

The additional funding will be awarded in the next four rounds of Scottish Edge.

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The competition supports innovative, high-growth, early-stage businesses with up to £150,000 in funding, made up of a combination of grants and loans. It also provides a business support package that includes mentoring, support and help with obtaining alternative finance.

Sir Tom Hunter: 'Start-ups are good, but scale-ups are great - they move the economic dial.'

The support is awarded as a grant and a loan which is paid back into the fund to help fellow entrepreneurs on their pathway to success.

News of the funding boost comes after a report published by Oxford Economics, commissioned by the Hunter Foundation, indicated that ambitious policy changes are required if Scotland’s economic performance is to be transformed and significantly boosted within the next 15 years.

The aim of the report was to address issues such as low productivity, poor business birth rate and lack of success with scale-ups within Scotland.

Hunter, founder of the Hunter Foundation, said: “This is a classic case of high quality demand outstripping funding supply – we all need to step up, as entrepreneurs and government.

“As we look for ways to help solve the problem of poor economic growth in Scotland, it’s clear that early stage, high growth businesses will play a key role in driving this change – both in rebuilding the economy and providing employment opportunities.

“Scottish Edge offers pivotal help in giving these businesses an opportunity to scale up and fulfil their potential. Start-ups are good, but scale-ups are great - they move the economic dial.”

Hunter is committing £300,000 in grants and £200,000 in loans to the competition.

Watt, who is the chief executive and co-founder of Scottish beer-maker BrewDog, said: “Scottish Edge is imperative to the development and growth of our future leaders and underpins the fundamentals of innovation, the foundation of which is continuous learning.

“Entrepreneurs take risks, are wildly ambitious and have unwavering faith in the impossible. By bolstering these programs, Scottish Edge is able to provide strategic allocation of resources, while creating value for the not yet imagined.”

Dorren, chief executive of Edinburgh-based ready meal firm Parsley Box, which recently floated on the stock market after a period of rapid growth, said: “Supporting high growth start-ups is essential to economic dynamism by spurring innovation and encouraging competition.

“Ambitious early-stage businesses can, with the right support, have a direct impact on the cities that they make their homes and scale up to create ripples of growth for the local economy.”

David Shearer, chairman of Scottish Edge, added: “This is an unequivocal testament to the impact Scottish Edge continues to generate in supporting the next wave of high growth potential businesses.

“This commitment is very welcome and I hope stimulates further constructive debate within Scottish Government as to where and how it focuses its financial resources to maximise impacts for Scotland’s economic growth.”

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