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Scotland: On the cusp of an entrepreneurial revolution

By Jim Duffy - Posted on 19 June 2013

Jim Duffy, Co-founder and CEO of Entrepreneurial Spark, Scotland’s first free business accelerator programme, discusses the entrepreneurial revolution taking place across the country…

When you hear ‘Scotland’, what words and phrases spring to mind – ‘stunning scenery’, ‘tartan’…'whisky'? How about ‘entrepreneurial powerhouse’?

While the last in this list might, at first sight at least, seem a little unrealistic, it’s not as far from the truth as you might think.

As an entrepreneur and the co-founder of the country’s first free business accelerator programme, Entrepreneurial Spark (ESpark), I was pleased to see positive news last week from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s latest Scotland report.

Compiled by academics from Strathclyde Business School’s Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, the report found that for the first time, estimated early-stage entrepreneurial activity in Scotland matched the average of the world’s twenty most innovation-driven economies.

Not only that, but the report also found Scotland now outperforms the ‘Arc of prosperity’ countries – Denmark, Finland, Ireland and Norway, when it comes to entrepreneurship.

We’re making progress, certainly, but there’s still work to be done if we want to make the most of our entrepreneurial potential.

At ESpark, we’ve seen how investing time to nurture raw entrepreneurial talent can really pay off. Through our ‘hatcheries’ in Glasgow, Ayrshire and Edinburgh, the programme has already helped more than 139 entrepreneurs, generated a combined turnover of more than £3.5m and created almost 200 new jobs for the Scottish economy.

Working with Scottish Enterprise, we've also seen the difference government-supported initiatives can make in inspiring entrepreneurs through the Encouraging Dynamic Growth Entrepreneurs (EDGE) fund. The business competition, which offers ambitious entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch to win up to £50,000 in seed funding, has already made a significant difference delivering £500,000 in funding so far, and is set to help even more when the latest winners are announced later today.

It seems the entrepreneurial revolution I and other entrepreneurs including, ESpark patron and Hunter Centre benefactor, Sir Tom Hunter have been trying to drive for years is finally gathering momentum.

However, organisations like ESpark can’t take the next step to a truly entrepreneurial Scotland alone. As Sir Tom says himself, to make this a reality we must all work together to develop a culture which promotes entrepreneurialism as a viable career option, not just for the few, but for all. We’re on the cusp of something amazing, we just need to work a little harder to achieve it.

Are you an Entrepreneur? What else do you think we can we do to nurture start-up businesses? Let us know in the comments below.

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