A Scottish Government ‘ecosystem fund’ has been relaunched to help entrepreneurs kickstart their businesses.

Grants of up to £50,000 will be available to ambitious founders seeking to startup or ‘scaleup’ their ventures, ministers said today.

The Ecosystem Fund will be widened this year to include initiatives encouraging young people to consider entrepreneurship from an early age. 

Applications providing access to support services for under-represented groups including women or those from disadvantaged areas will also be considered.

Community groups, non-profits, industry bodies, colleges and universities are amongst organisations invited to bid for funding to help boost entrepreneurial activity across Scotland.

Neil Gray, wellbeing economy secretary, said: “This expanded funding will build on Scotland’s international reputation as one of the best places in the UK to do business and help make an impact across the business community. Despite representing less than 1% of businesses, start-ups generate more than half the value of all small and medium-sized businesses. The fund will spark innovation while fulfilling our potential to nurture many more inventive new start-up companies and driving sustainable growth.

“We need to instil enthusiasm for business and entrepreneurship at all levels from an early age, which is why I encourage collaborative proposals from a wide range of sectors to enable connections and exchange of ideas. In so doing, we can help those who establish businesses to improve lives – such as advancing renewable energy technologies or creating apps that help tackle food waste.

“The Ecosystem Fund is an important step, but we must make further progress expanding entrepreneurial access and opportunity – ensuring that everyone, no matter their background, has the chance to fulfil their potential. Together we can remove barriers and open up access and opportunity to budding entrepreneurs across Scotland. By uniting the business community around this goal, we can create a wellbeing economy which is fair, green and growing.”

Chief entrepreneur Mark Logan recommended measures to support new businesses in his August 2020 Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review. He also co-authored the Pathways report with Ana Stewart, designed to encourage more women to create businesses.

He said: “Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem to raise a start-up. The Ecosystem Fund recognises and supports the vital enabling work of our ecosystem-building organisations. It will accelerate Scotland’s journey towards being an internationally recognised start-up nation.” 

The second phase of the Ecosystem Fund will begin paying Scottish Government grants from October and will cover activity up to March next year. It will be delivered in partnership with Scottish Enterprise.

More details here.

Projects could include:

  • Showcasing Scotland’s start-ups globally to attract talent, investment and strategic partners
  • networking events allowing founders, investors and partners to share expertise and foster connections
  • training, mentorship and identifying growth opportunities by providing funding for staff, equipment, meeting places or programmes for start ups
  • encouraging entrepreneurs who support fair work and environmental good practice to make a positive impact on communities
  • the promotion of learning and teaching in entrepreneurship
  • tackling barriers or discrimination preventing women and other social groups from accessing support