Scotland’s national economic development agency is geared up to help accelerate the delivery of growth for ambitious firms, finds Sarah Devine
Scotland has a diverse businesses base of all sizes, from early-stage small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to fully-established larger firms, and so the range of funding options and support offered by Scottish Enterprise is equally diverse.
The public body, Scotland’s national economic development agency, provides tailored support on an individual basis, to help organisations across all sectors achieve their overall growth ambitions.
At all stages of a company’s life cycle, Scottish Enterprise can provide a diverse range of financial support including commercial equity investments with private sector partners; loans to fund growth and expansion; grants leading to the creation of jobs and increased innovation, as well as an array of business advice and support.
Rhona Allison, a director at Scottish Enterprise, pictured below, says: “We are focused on growing the Scottish economy and a major part of that is how we work together with companies to understand their plans. We help ambitious companies grow and deliver more and better jobs for Scotland.
“Getting the right support at the right time to develop and grow your business can be critical to success, whether that is clarifying and focusing the strategic direction; deciding which markets to expand into; what innovation to invest in and when. We can help by providing a comprehensive package of support.”
Dr Derek Gilchrist and Neal Millar, co-founders of Glasgow University pharmaceutical spin-out Causeway Therapeutics, which has developed an innovative way of treating damaged tendons, have experienced the benefits of timely funding and support.
The partners contacted Scottish Enterprise soon after discovering a molecule that regulates the production of collagens, which give tendons their strength. The pair then received the right funding and business support at the right stage to allow them to work towards putting their product to market in the next three to five years.
Gilchrist says: “We knew from the first day that we wanted to commercialise our discovery, but we needed both funding and business support. Put simply, Causeway Therapeutics would not exist at all if it wasn’t for the support that we’ve had from Scottish Enterprise.”
In 2015, the company received £603,000 from Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Start-up Programme, which allowed the pair to create the drug TenoMiR to target the key pathological features of tendon disease and test it using a gold-standard clinical model. This breakthrough has allowed Causeway Therapeutics to grow its team and significantly accelerate its tendinopathy program. As a result, the firm is on track to begin testing TenoMiR in patients suffering from tennis elbow by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, the High Growth Venture Programme allowed Gilchrist to take part in Scottish Enterprise’s business masterclasses. He maintains: “This has been crucial in allowing me to step into the role of CEO.
Coming from an academic background, I had no previous business experience.
Learning about leadership, finance and entrepreneurship from the team of experts at Scottish Enterprise has been invaluable.”
Ambitious companies like Causeway can also access equity funding through the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB) – the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise.
SIB can potentially provide either loan or equity funding of up to 50 per cent for businesses that have a gap in their overall funding package, and last year it invested £43 million into 147 companies, leveraging more than £200m of private sector investment.
American bio-tech investment company Mediqventure and SIB have become co-investors in Causeway, investing £1m in 2017 and the same amount again over the last year to drive further testing.
Allison says: “The Scottish Investment Bank makes commercial investment alongside a range of private sector investors, including high-net worth individuals, venture capitalists and private-equity houses, at various stages of a company’s life cycle.”
Scottish Enterprise can also provide commercial loans of between £250,000 and £2m, and up to £5m in exceptional circumstances, to growth-focused companies that have a viable business plan and a clear ability to repay the debt.
To ensure businesses receive the right type of funding at the right time, the organisation suggests speaking to their team of experts as soon as possible. Allison explains: “Experience tells us the earlier we start the conversation with a company about their plans for expansion or growth the better, and the more impact we and the company can have in delivering the overall objective.”
And all companies in all sectors can benefit from Scottish Enterprise’s experienced advisors who are well connected throughout Scotland and beyond. The organisation’s 600-strong GlobalScot network continues to link business expertise from across the world to help make sense of the international markets.
“When we look at Scotland’s economy, we know how important it is to encourage growth and innovation for all-sized organisations,” says Allison. “Our role is to help stimulate that growth. We see massive opportunities across all sectors.”
Scottish Enterprise can offer a wealth of assistance towards business sustainability and innovation, helping companies contribute to Scotland’s prosperity. Allison adds: “We have a suite of support that can help companies expand.Come and talk to us if you are a firm with aspirations to grow. We help businesses find the solution.”
To find out how Scottish Enterprise can help your business develop, visit www.scottish-enterprise.com/funding-growth