The ‘Unlocking Ambition Challenge’, a scheme to nurture and support up to 40 budding entrepreneurs each year, has been set out by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. It will link established entrepreneurs with high potential individuals able to demonstrate that their ideas can be a success, create jobs and benefit Scottish society.

The challenge, backed by a £4m fund, will be delivered as part of Scotland CAN DO, the programme to support Scotland becoming a world-leading entrepreneurial nation.

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, and Amy Livingstone, co-founder of baby products company Cheeky Chompers.

Open for entry early in the New Year, the programme will recruit candidates from anywhere in the world – on the basis that they relocate or establish their business in Scotland. 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 Startup 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.”

Commenting on today’s announcement, Leah Hutcheon 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.”