A new enterprise hub in Glasgow aims to address systemic issues in Scotland’s economy – including a lower rate of university spinouts than the UK and lack of growth capital for startups.

The Royal Academy of Engineering has opened the hub at Strathclyde University’s Graham Hills building to support budding engineering and tech entrepreneurs.

Enterprise Hub Scotland will focus on helping local entrepreneurs to commercialise deep tech innovations, spin out companies from universities and attract further external investment.

The Academy’s Enterprise Hub has already supported 35 early-stage entrepreneurs in Scotland and awarded £1.6 million in total grant funding to date.

Led by Senior Enterprise Manager Emma Loedel, it will champion engineering excellence across Scotland and support local entrepreneurs who are tackling complex environmental, economic and societal challenges.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald GBE FREng FRSE, president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and principal of the University of Strathclyde, said: “Scotland has a proud history of innovation and a rich heritage that underpins its engineering economy today. Opening our first Enterprise Hub in Scotland marks an exciting step in the Academy’s journey to support ambitious, high-potential engineering and deep tech entrepreneurs across the country.

“I am delighted that the Academy is launching this new initiative in my home city of Glasgow within the vibrant ecosystem that is growing through the Glasgow City Innovation District. This is another bold strategic investment by our Academy and I look forward to seeing the innovative, home-grown talent that this exciting venture will support in the future.”

Recent Academy research highlights some of the current opportunities and challenges facing Scotland’s innovation ecosystem. Engineering Economy & Place, an analysis done with Metro Dynamics in 2023, showed that the engineering economy accounted for more than a quarter (26.4%) of all Scottish jobs, with particular engineering employment hotspots found in Aberdeenshire and West Lothian. 

Nearly a third of the UK’s deep tech companies are based in Edinburgh, partly thanks to support from organisations focused on developing local economic activity, such as that from Scottish Enterprise. Scotland also leads the UK in investment in spinout companies operating in critical technology sectors such as semiconductors and telecommunications, according to the Academy’s Spotlight on spinouts analysis with Beauhurst. 

However, Scotland produces spinouts at a rate 50% lower than the rest of the UK, relative to the amount of research funding received. British Business Bank research indicates that the average equity deal for small to medium enterprises was smaller than the UK average, and the Scottish National Investment Bank has previously identified a funding gap of between £217 million and £1.5 billion for scaleups.

Enterprise Hub Scotland will help to address these challenges by collaborating with other organisations to support engineers and innovators to develop their commercial skills, offering mentoring and profiling deep tech talent within Scotland.

The Hub is supported by Glasgow City Council, Glasgow City Innovation District, National Manufacturing Institute Scotland and Scottish Enterprise.