Scottish entrepreneurs to SCALE new heights

Ambitious entrepreneurs in Scotland are set to benefit from a new five-year international development programme, launched this week.

Three public agencies in Scotland have teamed up with leading entrepreneurial teachers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Harvard Business School to run the Scotland CAN DO SCALE programme, the first of its kind in Scotland.

The SCALE programme is an initiative that will offer high impact, internationally focused training for both start up and scale up entrepreneurship. Experienced Scottish entrepreneurs and world-leading academics will also be invited to deliver parts of the programme, sharing their knowledge of the challenges and routes to success for growing a global business from Scotland.

The SCALE programme offers a new opportunity to address a large number of both future entrepreneurs with a new business idea and entrepreneurs who have an existing business they want to scale up. They will work together to develop their global skills and expand their networks. The programme will boost Scotland’s status as a dynamic business location, result in an increase in the number and range of high growth businesses and enhance attractiveness to international investors.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), which has an existing successful long standing relationship with MIT, is leading the public sector involvement in SCALE, working closely with the Scottish Funding Council and Scottish Enterprise.

he inaugural SCALE Entrepreneurship Summer Workshop will take place in August 2015 in Stirling, giving up to 70 entrepreneurs the opportunity to take part. From January 2016, the SCALE programme will expand into a 12 month programme including additional multimedia learning, face to face, pitch training sessions, team formation activities and challenge events.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“The establishment of Scotland’s first international entrepreneurship summer school is great news for all business people in Scotland. The new SCALE Programme will complement the excellent business education already delivered by Scotland’s Universities and will bring world class entrepreneurship training straight to Scotland’s most promising innovators. The substantial expertise in company growth that MIT and Harvard will bring gives both start-up and existing companies a fantastic opportunity to rapidly improve their development potential and business skills.”

The SCALE programme builds on the momentum that has been established in part from the Scottish Government placing innovation and entrepreneurship at the heart of Scotland CAN DO, and Scotland’s Economic Strategy. It also addresses a number of recommendations from the REAP Scotland Report published in October 2014 for on the ground actions that can help make Scotland the most entrepreneurial country in the world.

Charlotte Wright, director of business and sector development with HIE, said: “We are encouraging both existing and potential entrepreneurs from across Scotland to consider this exciting new opportunity and there is considerable interest from many of those we already work with.

“SCALE will offer internationally excellent coaching, led by practitioners, for entrepreneurs starting up or expanding their business operations. It will be accessible to all current and future ambitious business founders and management teams in Scotland. It will set a very high standard for this type of development opportunity in the UK and Europe and will create wider opportunities within undergraduate and executive education in Scotland.”

Welcoming the initiative, Sandy Kennedy, chief executive of Entrepreneurial Scotland commented: “World class training, an international outlook and strong connectivity between entrepreneurs who are starting out and those already running business are identified as vital ingredients in our collective vision for Scotland to be the most entrepreneurial society in the world. The more we can collaborate across all sectors to bring like -minded individuals together and learn from each other, the more chance we have of achieving our ambition.”

Notes to editors

More information on Scotland CAN DO SCALE is online at

Entrepreneurial Scotland - Entrepreneurial Scotland is a fast growing, dynamic community of current and future entrepreneurial and entrepreneurial leaders worldwide who want to see Scotland become the most entrepreneurial society in the world. Entrepreneurial Scotland provides a cohesive framework for peer learning and connections amongst likeminded people. It was created in 2014 with the ambition to build a more entrepreneurial culture in Scotland by bringing together the membership network The Entrepreneurial Exchange and the Saltire Foundation, which delivers high impact training programmes.

REAP Report - Specific opportunities and recommendations for developing Scotland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem were laid out in the MIT REAP Scotland Report “Increasing Innovation-Driven Entrepreneurship in Scotland through Collective Impact” in October 2014. Prepared over two years by a team drawn from across the business, academic and financial communities the REAP Scotland Report highlighted the strengths of the existing entrepreneurial system, while identifying a number of bottlenecks and recommending ways in which these can be overcome. The team preparing the report was led by HIE and Scottish Enterprise and did so as part of the MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP), a global initiative to help regions accelerate economic growth and job creation through innovation-driven entrepreneurship, an essential requirement for success in delivering Scotland’s Economic Strategy.

The REAP Scotland report contained a number of ‘Calls to Action’ inviting all those with an interest in improving the performance of Scotland in the field of innovation-driven entrepreneurship to work collectively to deliver a world-class ecosystem which stimulates and supports the growth of innovation-driven enterprises. HIE, SE and the SFC propose to answer the following Call to Action with the development of the SCALE programme.

“Provision of a coherent, world class programme of training in Scotland for entrepreneurs, drawing on industry experience and international best practice. Included in this is recognition of “just in time” learning provided via technology though by massive open online courses (MOOCs).”

Specifically the SCALE programme is designed to respond to the challenge issued by the REAP Scotland to Scotland’s world class HEIs to:

Implement a step-change in increasing the contribution universities make to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Scotland;

  • Use a ‘Collective Impact’ (One Scotland) approach to the development of local and international best-practice across Scotland’s Universities;
  • Increase the focus on leadership training business skills and entrepreneurship within all undergraduate and postgraduate courses;
  • Leverage university alumni networks and encourage mid-career decisions that help to build the innovation-driven entrepreneurial ecosystem to support new founders and those with business experience and
  • Develop a set of innovation-driven entrepreneurship performance metrics for international benchmarking.

The SCALE programme also addresses the other essential requirements identified within the REAP Scotland report, including the need for:
- Effective Connections;
- Skills for Growth
- Financing for Growth and Developing Role Models.

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