A new report published today identifies five actions which could help Scotland become one of the most entrepreneurial and innovative economies in the world.
The public and private sectors are being urged to harness their collective strengths to nurture the potential of Scottish businesses.
The report has been compiled by a Scottish team, drawn from both the private and public sectors, who took part in a two-year programme run by the world renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme (REAP) is designed to help countries and regions boost their business performance by combining innovation and entrepreneurship to drive growth. The team from Scotland has been participating alongside groups from Finland, New Zealand, Spain, Mexico and China.
Over two years the REAP team drew together a large group of stakeholders to understand how effective Scotland’s support was in key areas for entrepreneurs. Scotland’s performance was benchmarked against the world leading innovation-driven economies.
The REAP process helped to identify five priorities for urgent action. Firstly, acquiring the skills to grow a successful, international business is a significant challenge in Scotland. Secondly, the effectiveness of networks across the country and globally, which draw on the experience and knowledge of others, is an area for improvement. Thirdly, access to risk finance continues to be a barrier for many entrepreneurs. Fourthly, the wider role of universities in educating the next generation of entrepreneurs, and using their alumni networks, is a key opportunity. Finally, Scotland’s successful entrepreneurs have an important part to play as accessible role models, experienced mentors and visible leaders for business.
The findings were welcomed by the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, John Swinney. He said: “The recommendations within the REAP Scotland report support the work the Scottish Government is doing to improve entrepreneurship and innovation in Scotland. Our vision of Scotland is of a world-leading entrepreneurial and innovative nation where businesses can develop and prosper. We are working hard in Government to support and empower the longstanding entrepreneurial spirit of the Scottish people.”
Simon Grey, CEO of Inverness-based AWS Ocean Energy has led innovation driven businesses for over twenty years. As a REAP team member he pointed out that “The findings of the REAP report are crucial in highlighting the importance of working together to support innovation driven enterprises which are vital to the development of a strong nation characterised by job and wealth creation.”
Angel investor and Chairman of Iomart PLC, Ian Ritchie commented: “Having supported early-stage entrepreneurial companies in Scotland for over 25 years, I welcomed the opportunity to join this effort and compare our performance with other regional economies across the world. We have learned from others and have identified key areas where we can improve our support of talented entrepreneurs with global ambitions.”
Professor Jonathan Levie, expert in entrepreneurship from the University at Strathclyde advised “by learning from each other, and from best practice in other countries, Scottish universities can deliver the enterprising graduates employers are looking for.”
The report is a call to action for all those with a desire to position Scotland as a world leading economy, through the success of the country’s entrepreneurs. In early autumn, further details of specific actions and a formal launch will be announced.
For further information and to view the full REAP report entitled Increasing Innovation Driven Entrepreneurship in Scotland Through Collective Impact, please visit www.hie.co.uk/REAPreport or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- The REAP Scotland Team draws its membership from key stakeholder communities across Scotland’s entrepreneurship ecosystem i.e. entrepreneurs, investors, academia, business and the public sector. The work of the team is supported and facilitated by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise. REAP Scotland team members are:
• Donna Chisholm (Chair)
Head of Business Innovation and Growth Sectors, Highlands and Islands Enterprise
• Simon Grey
CEO, AWS Ocean Energy
• Ian Ritchie
Chairman, Iomart plc
• Jonathan Levie
Director of Knowledge Exchange, Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, University of Strathclyde
• Jonathan Harris
Editor, Young Company Finance
• Clive Reeves
Collaborative Funding Manager, Scottish Enterprise