Scotland's Economy

Scotland is a fertile ground for entrepreneurs

November 26, 2012 by No Comments | Category Business

Scotland is a nation that is rich in talent with a great reputation in innovation and enterprise. Those that claim Scotland invented the modern world, are not far off. From the telephone, to the television, to the more recent Pelamis Wave Energy converter, the inventive spirit of Scotland has created so many of the products that are now part of our daily life.

As we look at securing a strong economic recovery and revitalising Scotland’s economy it is important that that same spirit of innovation and enterprise is encouraged so a new generation of entrepreneurs can realise their potential and seize opportunities.

We are working hard in Government to support and empower the longstanding entrepreneurial spirit of the Scottish people. If we are to strengthen the recovery, as well as boosting government investment and helping existing business we must provide the conditions for entrepreneurs to thrive.

Recent figures show a positive trend with the number of private enterprises rising by 10 per cent from March 2011 to March 2012 to a total of 341,360.

These figures represent the highest number of private enterprises operating in Scotland since such statistics have been collected and continues a trend of year on year increases in the number of small to medium enterprises since we came to office.

This increase in the number of businesses has been driven by start up enterprises – some choosing to start the business of their dreams, others, a sign that Scots even in the face of difficult economic climate are confident enough to go out and make the most of opportunities available.

Entrepreneurs inScotland have a wealth of support coming from both the public and private sectors. For more than twenty years the work of the Prince’s Trust Youth Business Scotland has been both inspirational and delivered substantial value to the economy by providing support and funding to young Scottish businesses.

We are starting to see a real strengthening of our entrepreneurial ecosystem with the recent arrival of Entrepreneurial Spark in Glasgow and Dundonald, supported by Sir Tom Hunter and Sir Willie providing free space and advice for young entrepreneurs.

Only last month the Scottish Government, working with Royal Bank of Scotland and Entrepreneurial Spark, launched the Scottish EDGE entrepreneurs fund which committed £1 million in order to see awards of up to £50,000 to accelerate innovative business ideas being developed by Scotland’s most dynamic and capable entrepreneurs.

In December we will see the launch of TechCube in Edinburgh, a high-tech incubator based entirely on private capital and the efforts of local technology startups, where the First Minister earlier this month announced the Young Innovators Challenge which gives up to £50,000 to participants who can provide an innovative solution to a number of industry challenges.

And as businesses develop our Small Business Bonus Scheme helps lift the financial pressures, ensuring three in five businesses pay no business rates, lowering the tax bill for many start ups.

These are just some of the ways by which, working with partners, we are creating a more fertile ground for entrepreneurship inScotland.

The RBS Group ‘Women inEnterprise: A Different Perspective’ report, published last month, shows that since the early 1970’s, the rate of self-employment amongst women has consistently remained half that of men. In 2011 just over 10 per cent of men were in the early stages of setting up a business, compared with only 5 per cent of women. The research also indicates that, while women make up 48 per cent of the working population, they make up only 26 per cent of the self-employed and just 17 per cent of business owners.

Last month I was able to attend the first of a series of workshops chaired by professor Sara Carter of Strathclyde University on this matter and was impressed with the energy and commitment of those present.

Professor Carter stated the case for action clearly when she said; “the figures are clear – if women started businesses at the same rate as men, the UK would have 150,000 more businesses starting each year, and if women in the UK started businesses at the same rate as women in the US, there would be 700,000 more businesses in the UK. In Scotland, this would result in a significant boost to the economy as well as increase the quality of goods and services that are offered”

Royal Bank of Scotland’s £1.5 million Inspiring Women in Enterprise fund is a welcome contribution on behalf of the private sector to tackling that divide and enhancing the role of women in enterprise.

What is crucial though is that we create an environment in which all of our people can flourish and that more Scots across the country are equipped with the confidence and support to utilise these facilities, to emerge as entrepreneurs and to capture the opportunities an independent Scotland will bring.

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