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£4 Million to Find the Entrepreneurs of the Future

Brian Baglow


Nicola Sturgeon: Unlocking Ambition Challenge

The new scheme will link budding entrepreneurs with some of Scotland’s most successful business leaders to find the best ideas in the world.

As part of the keynote address at the 2017 Startup Summit event, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon more details about the £4 million Unlocking Ambition Challenge.

A new scheme to nurture and support up to 40 budding entrepreneurs each year, backed by £4 million, has been set out by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The Scotland CAN DO Unlocking Ambition Challenge will  connect successful entrepreneurs and business leaders with ambitious entrepreneurs.

The Unlocking Ambition Challenge will be delivered as part of the Scotland CAN DO programme which aims to make Scotland a world-leading entrepreneurial nation.

Alongside Scottish Government agencies, partner organisations from the private sector, third sector and academia will help support the successful candidates.

The entrepreneurs will receive 12 months of funding, mentoring, and incubation with one of the partner organisations. Those demonstrating the most progress will receive support for a further 12 months.

The business leaders and established entrepreneurs who have already signed up to help 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
  • Amy Livingstone, co-founder of baby products company Cheeky Chompers

Open for entry in early 2018, the programme will welcome entrepreneurs from all around the world – on the basis that they establish or locate their business in Scotland.

The successful entrepreneurs will be mentored and funded as they develop their ideas, receiving tailored support by partners in both the public and private sectors.

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.”

James Watt, BrewDog co-founder said:

“The Unlocking Ambition Challenge offers innovative entrepreneurs everything they need to take their business to the next level – time, money and amazing support from world-class organisations. It’s an extraordinary opportunity that will unearth the game-changers of the future and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

James Stuart, Managing Director of Entrepreneurial Scotland added:

“Unlocking Ambition is an exciting initiative and one that we are delighted to be involved with. The initiative has the potential to drive a substantial impact.

“What is as exciting, is that the approach – linking a number of world class programmes of entrepreneurial support and deliberately embarking on a co-production design process – is set to drive additional benefits for Scotland and the broader entrepreneurial ecosystem too.”


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Brian Baglow


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