First Minister launches £4m fund to support future entrepreneurs

Leah Hutcheon, founder of online scheduling business Appointedd

First Minister launches £4m fund to support future entrepreneurs

A new scheme to nurture and support up to 40 budding entrepreneurs each year, backed by £4m, has been set out by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The Scotland CAN DO Unlocking Ambition Challenge links established and successful entrepreneurs with high potential individuals who can demonstrate that their ideas can be a success, create jobs and benefit Scottish society.

The entrepreneurial mentors, who will select the candidates, include:

  • James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog
  • Leah Hutcheon, founder of online scheduling business Appointedd
  • Cally Russell, founder of multi-retailer shopping app Mallzee
  • Chris van der Kuyl, co-founder of videogame developer 4J Studios
  • Amy Livingstone, co-founder of baby products company Cheeky Chompers

Open for entry early in the New Year, the successful cohort will be mentored and funded as they develop their ideas, receiving bespoke support by partner organisations from the public and private sectors.

Launching the fund at the Start-up Summit – an annual event to help new businesses in Scotland to grow and thrive – the First Minister said: “We want to ensure the most talented entrepreneurs, from Scotland and elsewhere, have the best opportunities to develop their ideas here, bring them to market and create the successful new companies we need for our economy to continue to grow.

“The Unlocking Ambition Challenge is a fresh and innovative approach to how we can make this a reality. By tapping into the experience of Scotland’s most successful business people, as well as the great companies and institutions based here, we can unlock the potential of the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

James Watt, BrewDog co-founder said: “The Unlocking Ambition Challenge offers innovative entrepreneurs everything they need to take their business to the next level – time, money and amazing support from world-class organisations. It’s an extraordinary opportunity that will unearth the game-changers of the future and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Leah Hutcheon, founder of Appointedd said: "I am thrilled to support the Scotland Can Do Unlocking Ambition Challenge. Mentoring has played an integral role in the success of Appointedd. My own mentors’ ongoing advice and support has been invaluable particularly over the last 18 months as we have progressed from start-up to scale-up. I look forward to being able to challenge others to unlock their ambition."

James Stuart, Managing Director of Entrepreneurial Scotland added: “Unlocking Ambition is an exciting initiative and one that we are delighted to be involved with. The initiative has the potential to drive a substantial impact.

“What is as exciting, is that the approach – linking a number of world class programmes of entrepreneurial support and deliberately embarking on a co-production design process – is set to drive additional benefits for Scotland and the broader entrepreneurial ecosystem too.”