UA1 cohort

Scottish Enterprise helps entrepreneurs to unlock £36 million of investment

Scottish Enterprise has today unveiled the impact of its support to entrepreneurs participating in its flagship business growth and leadership programme, Unlocking Ambition.

Since the programme launched in 2018, it has so far helped 107 entrepreneurs from 79 companies across Scotland to generate £36 million of new direct investment, £7.4 million in total revenue growth which includes £3.9 million in international turnover growth, and create almost 150 good, new jobs in Scotland.

Additionally, over the next three years, participating companies are projected to cumulatively reduce Scotland’s carbon emissions by up to 7,468 tonnes, which is equivalent to the annual electricity used to power almost 1400 homes.

Now in its third year, Unlocking Ambition has recently welcomed a further 38 new entrepreneurs to the community, joining the competitively-recruited programme for entrepreneurs chosen for their individual potential, the quality of their ideas, ability to scale and their contribution to the Scottish economy from sustainable growth through investment, innovation and exporting. The programme supports early stage companies ranging from start-ups to more established high growth businesses.

Kerry Sharp, Director of Growth Investments at Scottish Enterprise, said:

“These are fantastic achievements that demonstrate what supporting entrepreneurs through a high value, tailored programme can produce. Scottish Enterprise is proud of its role in helping deliver such positive results which have an impact on people and regions across Scotland. A £5.6m commitment that has so far returned £36m of direct investment to date represents incredibly great value for taxpayers’ money, even before we see the results from the latest group of entrepreneurs.

“Last week I was delighted to help welcome the new cohort to the Unlocking Ambition community when Unlocking Ambition 3 kicked off. It was great to see the diversity in the cohort – across sectors, nationalities, gender and regions of Scotland. I very much look forward to seeing their continued success as they grow and scale up their businesses, creating even greater opportunities for green economy growth right across the country.”

Examples of Unlocking Ambition company achievements include:

  • The Start Up Drinks Lab, based in Inverclyde, has tripled its job numbers and had turnover growth from zero to £500,000 since joining the programme in 2018. Hannah Fisher, Co-Founder said: “SE deserve so much credit for UA. They could not have done more to help us.”
  • Loch Electronics, located in Edinburgh, recently secured £665,000 of crowdfunding, one of Scotland’s largest ever kickstarter projects. Its Founder, Fran Carreno said: “We are substantially more resilient thanks to Unlocking Ambition”
  • The (Global) Future Forest Company on the Isle of Mull recently signed a $1.5 million deal with US-based Stripe for its carbon removal project. Jim Mann Co-Founder said: “the team running the program were excellent – it’s really impressive especially with the challenges covid presented.”
  • IndiNature, based in Edinburgh with a recently opened production manufacturing facility in the Borders, have secured £5.3 million of investment since joining the programme. Co-Founder Scott Simpson commented: “Unlocking Ambition is not only a worthwhile programme but for Scotland's economy and social and environmental impacts, it is a necessary programme”
  • Talking Medicines in Glasgow, the world’s first social intelligence company for the pharmaceutical industry, secured a £1.1 million funding deal to scale up its AI-based data technology platform for measuring patient sentiment. Talking Medicines Co-Founder Jo Halliday states: “Unlocking Ambition is a really strong program, well run by people who care about individuals & business success - the spirit of it is totally unique”.

The latest group of 38 entrepreneurs chosen to join Unlocking Ambition started their programme on 1 September and continue to represent a diverse range of business activity, as well as a focus on the green economy. From sustainable construction materials to medical grade vital-sign wearable technology, the group includes companies like Dundee-based SolarisKit, creator of a thermal collector to harness solar energy, who recently secured a place on Amazon Launchpad, enabling it to sell its products to global markets.

Over the next seven months Unlocking Ambition will offer these companies an intensive programme of entrepreneurial leadership masterclasses and events to help them realise their ambitions. It includes an accredited module with Babson College USA, the global leader in entrepreneur education, and masterclass sessions led by an incredible range of GlobalScots including venture capitalist Eric McAfee and Graeme Cook from Keller Group, as well as senior leaders from LinkedIn, Survey Monkey, Apple and Facebook – to name a few. Links will be established with investors and participant companies will receive invaluable business advice, mentoring and in-kind support from Scottish Enterprise and partners such as FutureX Innovations and Entrepreneurial Scotland.  

Contact Information

Paul Foy

Engagement Partner

Scottish Enterprise

+44 141 468 5350

Notes to editors

Notes to editors

Including the latest cohort, the Unlocking Ambition community now totals 145 entrepreneurs and 110 companies.

The programme allows co-founders into the programme where it is demonstrated that there is added value for the business if the co-founders take part together.

About Unlocking Ambition

The Unlocking Ambition Challenge was initially launched in 2018 by the Scottish Government as a £4 million fund and is delivered by Scottish Enterprise and partners to support entrepreneurs chosen for their individual potential, the quality of their ideas and the contribution they can make to the Scottish economy and wider society.

More information on the UA community, including details of the 38 entrepreneurs and their businesses currently participating in the latest Unlocking Ambition programme, is available on the website.