Scrap Scottish Enterprise to boost entrepreneurship, claims professor

Scotland’s major organisation for business support should be replaced with new institutions focused on entrepreneurship, according to a think-tank report.

A paper by Ross Brown, professor in entrepreneurship and small business finance at St Andrews University’s School of Management, for Reform Scotland claims Scotland has an “uneasy relationship” with entrepreneurialism and a culture change is required to boost the economy.

In “The Next Start-Up Nation? – a manifesto for an independent, entrepreneurial and ambitious Scotland”, he recommends the dismantling of Scottish Enterprise and its Highlands and Islands counterpart, the abolition of the First Minister’s Council of Economic Advisers, and he says the country should emulate the Israeli government’s “strategic and sophisticated” interventions which shaped its hi-tech sector.

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Prof Brown also suggests the Scottish Government should target women, immigrants and people with disabilities to “unleash hidden entrepreneurial spirit”.

“Entrepreneurial activity plays a pivotal role in shaping the economic success of countries, yet Scotland’s recent entrepreneurial history is one of significant under-performance,” he said.

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“If Scotland is to thrive as an independent country, not least as an independent country finding its feet during the Covid pandemic recovery, it will need to embrace a revolution in entrepreneurialism.

“Ultimately, Scotland can only be transformed into a start-up nation by the entrepreneurs themselves, but government can lay the foundation to create those entrepreneurs.”

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Prof Brown said if Scotland were to become independent, its economy would be heavily reliant on innovation and would require a culture that celebrates entrepreneurs, as well as better funding and support for start-ups.

Along with scrapping Scottish Enterprise would come "a new set of institutions focused on supporting high-growth ventures”, while the Council of Economic Advisers would be replaced with a National Entrepreneurship Council composed of successful entrepreneurs, investors, financial institutions, key business angels, and entrepreneurship policy experts.

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It should also be easier for innovators to access growth capital and advice in order to scale up their businesses, he said.

Chris Deerin, Reform Scotland’s director said: “What Prof Brown proposes is nothing less than a revolution in the way Scotland views and supports its entrepreneurs.

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"In a competitive global economy, these are the people that can make the difference for Scotland, that create the jobs and pay the taxes that support our public services, and they deserve better support than they currently get."

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