A group of entrepreneurs, including BrewDog co-founder James Watt, is giving a £1million boost to a competition that offers backing to Scotland’s up-and-coming businesses.
The money will be awarded as grant and loan funding to winners in the Scottish Edge initiative.
Businessman and philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter has pledged a total of £500,000, with £300,000 in grants for firms and £200,000 in loans
Mr Watt, chief executive of the Ellon-based craft brewer, is giving £100,000 for loans, as are Stagecoach Group co-founder Sir Brian Souter, Lord and Lady Haughey, Kevin Dorren and Chris van der Kuyl and Paddy Burns.
Aimed at helping early-stage businesses that are judged to have high growth potential, Scottish Edge awards winning firms up to £150,000 in cash. It also provides a business support package that includes mentoring, support and signposting to alternative finance.
Today’s funding announcement comes after a report published by Oxford Economics, commissioned by The Hunter Foundation indicated that radical and ambitious policy changes are needed if Scotland’s economic performance is to be significantly boosted within the next 15 years.
Sir Tom 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. Scottish Edge’s track record speaks for itself and scaling it up is, in common parlance, a no brainer.”
Mr Watt added: “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.”
Scottish Edge chairman, David Shearer, said the entrepreneurs’ backing was an
“unequivocal testament” to the impact the initiative makes in supporting high growth potential businesses.
He continued: “It shows Scotland’s entrepreneurs are willing to commit where they know the outcomes impact positively on Scotland’s future.
“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.”
Scottish Edge is supported by the Hunter Foundation, Royal Bank of Scotland, the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise, as well as award-specific partners in each round.