More than £5.5million is being poured into a revamped fund aimed at budding Scottish entrepreneurs.
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) said yesterday it was chipping in £2.5million to the fund, adding to a £2.35million commitment by economic development quango Scottish Enterprise.
The initiative is also backed by £700,000 from the Hunter Foundation, a charity set up in 1998 by businessman Sir Tom Hunter and his wife, Marion, to support educational and entrepreneurial projects.
RBS said the new scheme would take the existing Scottish EDGE programme, a competition run along the lines of the Dragon’s Den TV show, on to a new phase under a new name and help hundreds more entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Scottish EDGE was set up by the Scottish Government two years ago.
It is said to have already created 120 jobs at 69 businesses which grew their total turnover by an estimated £5million after securing funding.
The revamped fund – as yet unnamed – will be managed by a charity, allowing for other fundraising opportunities, with an independent board of trustees.
Scottish EDGE’s current cash prize will change to a 50/50 loan and prize combination, which RBS said would help to extend the scheme “beyond the current 2017 timeline”.
Future winners will also benefit from business support, take part in leadership education and join a Scottish entrepreneurial alumni initiative.
Participants who fail to qualify for financial help will be supported in other ways to further develop their business.
Applications for the next round of funding will be accepted on the Scottish EDGE website until October 1.
RBS chief executive Ross McEwan said: “It is the drive and dynamism of Scotland’s entrepreneurs and small businesses that will help secure Scotland’s future economic prosperity.
“We are delighted to announce this further support.
“The fund is a brilliant example of collaboration, bringing together some of the key players in the business community to help kick start some of Scotland’s most exciting, new growth businesses.”
Sir Tom Hunter added: “Building growth companies in Scotland is fundamental to our economic and social future.
“This development neatly converts a government-led initiative to a private sector-led programme of support…and cements an excellent public-private partnership.
“We need to stretch our businesses, aim for high growth and internationalisation.”
Finance Secretary John Swinney said: “I am delighted that the EDGE fund will continue until 2017 with enhanced investment.
“The EDGE fund is a first rate example of our Scotland can do commitment to becoming a world-leading entrepreneurial and innovative nation.
“Through our work with public, private and third sector partners we have created a real team Scotland approach, with a shared ambition of a continuing entrepreneurial revival.”