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Aberdeen-based Elevator at heart of unlocking Scotland’s creative potential

Firms contribute £5 billion to the national economy every year.

Two young women working as fashion designers and drawing sketches for clothes.
Scotland's creative industries are a growing feature of the economy. Image: Shutterstock

Scotland’s creative industries do not feature in the news headlines as much as some other sectors – such as food & drink, tourism, oil & gas and renewables.

But their financial and employment significance north of the border should not be overlooked.

The Scottish Government is well aware of the importance of creative industries.

It has been previously calculated they contribute more than £5 billion to our economy every year.

These firms are based on individual creativity, skill and talent, or which have the potential to create wealth and jobs through the development or production of intellectual property.

Getting creative around Scotand

There are believed to be 15,000-plus creatiive industry ventures in Scotland, employing more than 70,000 people. There are also a large number of freelancers as well as students studying creative courses.

Holyrood says our creative industries have 16 distinct sectors:

  • Advertising
  • Architecture
  • Visual art
  • Crafts
  • Fashion and textiles
  • Design
  • Performing arts
  • Music
  • Photography
  • Film and video
  • Computer games
  • Radio and TV
  • Writing and publishing
  • Heritage
  • Software/electronic publishing
  • Cultural education

Together they make an important ongoing contribution to our national wealth and international reputation.

Transformative changes

Meanwhile, the new year brings with it the promise of new opportunities and transformative changes for creative industries as well as all other business sectors.

Aberdeen-based Elevator, an organisation supporting aspiring entrepreneurs throughout Scotland, is at the forefront of driving these opportunities.

Chief executive Gary McEwan said: “The upcoming year provides a blank canvas, inviting individuals to unleash their vibrant vision and turn their entrepreneurial dreams into thriving ventures.

Elevator CEO Gary McEwan.
Elevator CEO Gary McEwan. Image: Elevator

“Elevator’s comprehensive range of programmes, strategic initiatives and unwavering commitment to empowering individuals are driving the entrepreneurial ecosystem that propels Scotland towards a promising future.”

Driving entrepreneurship

Through its business-growth programmes and its delivery of Business Gateway services across Aberdeen City and shire, as well as other parts of Scotland, Elevator helps people achieve their goals.

Last year alone it supported more than 12,000 entrepreneurs/businesses across Scotland, including many in the north-east.

The last quarter of 2023 saw the return of the popular Transform Business Festival to Aberdeen Science Centre.

Business Gateway Transformation Festival.
Business Gateway Transform Festival. Image: Business Gateway

Delivered by Elevator and Business Gateway Aberdeen City and Shire, in collaboration with local authorities, the one-day event connected 250-plus business owners, start-ups and support partners through inspirational speakers and workshops on a range of topics.

We also saw the return of Shell LiveWIRE to the north-east after a four-year break.

This programme encourages self-starters to venture beyond their comfort zones, gaining the confidence required to shift gear, challenge perceptions and embrace their businesses’ ultimate potential.

Shell Livewire is returning to the north-east Pictured at the launch are, l-r, John Raine, Shell, Andy Campbell, Elevator, Louise Kettle, Elevator, Gary McEwan, Elevator, Simon Roddy, Shell, Karen Clark, Elevator, and Sireen Adwan, Elevator.
Shell Livewire is back. Pictured at the launch are, l-r, John Raine, Shell, Andy Campbell, Elevator, Louise Kettle, Elevator, Gary McEwan, Elevator, Simon Roddy, Shell, Karen Clark, Elevator, and Sireen Adwan, Elevator. Image: Engage PR

As delivery partner, Elevator has designed a programme of coaching, mentoring, master classes and residential trips to expand each participant’s thinking and help them embrace the growth mindset required to transform their firm.

For a cohort of 18 participants from across the north-east, their journey has begun with Shell LiveWIRE.

Shell UK’s relationship with Elevator supports investment in skills and opportunities in communities across the UK, helping to ensure energy transition is an opportunity for everyone.

Through these activities, Shell UK aims to help 15,000 people into jobs with a focus on the energy transition by 2035.

Impact! aims to make a difference

Meanwhile, following an award from Scottish Enterprise’s Ecosystem Fund, Elevator has kicked off the new year with the launch of its new Impact! programme.

Businesses throughout Scotland are pivoting towards not only being profitable but also doing good in the world, making a difference in society by being more ethically and environmentally responsible.

Impact! helps organisations align their business goals with their core values. North-east businessses are eligible for the Dundee-based cohort.

Further expanding its reach and impact, Elevator ended 2023 by receiving funding from the Scottish Government’s Pathways Pre-Start Fund.

The focus here is to support more people from under-represented groups to become entrepreneurs.

Pathways has a particular focus on helping women turn their business aspirations into reality.

With this goal in mind, Elevator recently launched a new E3f programme. This community outreach project is designed to provide tailored support to women from a variety of backgrounds. It is exclusive to the areas of Moray, Angus and south Glasgow.

Elevator case study: Socks start-up GRPZ Sports

Adam Joji and his innovative socks.
Adam Joji and his innovative socks. Image: Ian Forsyth

Aberdeen entrepreneur Adam Joji is the 23-year-old founder of sportswear brand GRPZ Sports.

His business is also part of the region’s growing creative industries.

It specialises in the manufacture and supply of innovative anti-slip grip socks.

Mr Joji has had some notable achievements to date, including being backed by Scottish Premier League football clubs St Mirren and Livingston.

He also hopes to secure partnerships with his home team, Aberdeen FC, and other clubs.

Taking part in Elevator Challenge Weekend ‘one of my best decisions’

The semi-professional athlete spends most of his spare time in the gym or playing for local football club Bridge of Don Thistle.

A highlight of his young entrepreneurial journey has been taking part in one of Elevator’s Challenge Weekend events.

He said attending it was “one of my best decisions to date”.

He added:”I was a bit sceptical and had my doubts at first. But I thought to myself “what is there to lose?

“The Elevator Weekend was a real eye opener which taught me lessons about myself I may have never learned at such a young age.”