Case Studies News

Powered Through Collective Action And Expertise, Global Open Finance Centre Of Excellence (GOFCoE) Initiative Secures £22.5m Funding Grant

The University of Edinburgh, FinTech Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and the Financial Data and Technology Association (FDATA)

Can Do Collective spoke with FinTech Scotland, to find out more about why the collective impact approach was so important for the successful funding application submitted by the Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence (GOFCoE) initiative.

Open Banking is currently the most significant global trend in financial services and financial technology (FinTech). Launched in the UK in 2018, Open Banking is a pioneering initiative to rebalance markets in favour of consumers by using shared financial data through secure open Application Programming Interfaces to increase competition and innovation, leading to better products and services. Crucially, Open Banking is likely to evolve to Open Finance, taking into account other areas of Financial Services such and Pensions, Investments and Insurance.

It will help create new opportunities for products and services, allowing researchers to better understand the opportunities and impacts of this financial data evolution for society, the economy and the environment. The Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence (GOFCoE) is being established in Edinburgh to provide leadership, coordination, research and capability to support Open Finance.


The Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence (GOFCoE) is an initiative brought together by the collective action & expertise of The University of Edinburgh, FinTech Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and the Financial Data and Technology Association (FDATA). Their initial bid was shortlisted from over 200 companies and then went on to win an investment fund of £22.5m along with six other projects.

The key objectives of The Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence (GOFCoE) are to:

  • Enable research and innovation, thus accelerating industry adoption of Open Finance at scale
  • Decrease time-to-market and development costs, thereby improving start-up survival, attracting inward investment, securing jobs and creating export opportunities
  • Undertake data-driven research to create knowledge of financial behaviours and deliver wider social and economic benefits for all
  • Work with industry to establish ethical standards and best practice to ensure public trust

The bid benefited from the support of Scottish Enterprise and The University of Edinburgh who has extensive expertise with regards to bids and grant funding. The academic body (UoE) will be one of the main end-users of the programme as the intelligence will support more accurate and relevant research in this space moving forward. FinTech Scotland worked to amplify the profile of the project as well as bringing people together to collaborate and galvanise the overall process.

Mickael Paris, Marketing Director for FinTech Scotland comments,

“The project will enable innovation around financial data leading to new research and the creation of new companies as well as providing a framework of support for existing companies.

We believe that the ultimate beneficiary of this project is the citizen. More informed research, better and easier access to financial services as well as the development of innovative services will be good for everyone. This is our definition of Fintech. Fintech is a movement that uses data and technology to deliver a better outcome for people or companies and we really believe in that.”


Nicola Anderson, Strategic Development Director at FinTech Scotland comments,

“The impact of the collaboration is currently probably best demonstrated through the fantastic achievement of the £22.5m funding granted through the strength in places that was awarded by UK Research & Innovation. This outcome demonstrates the power of business and academic collaboration and the funding will go towards driving enterprise, business innovation and jobs.

With engagement across Scotland, UK and globally, the initiative will further reinforce the inclusive international approach in developing the fintech cluster which is focused on delivering better consumer financial outcomes and sustainable economic growth through innovation.

This is the first significant award of its kind in the UK into research in financial services and important given the strength of financial services and fintech to the Scottish economy. The breath of the financial services industry that already works in Scotland is fantastic. We have great businesses across wealth management, asset management, banking, insurance, pensions and then we have a huge range of FinTech SME’s and we are continually seeing this number increase. The financial services industry is strategically important, not just to the Scottish and wider economy but also it’s a strategically important industry in its own right – so to have that collaborative project come to Scotland to really think about the future of some aspects of financial services is a great collaborative outcome.”

To find out more about the project, visit

About FinTech Scotland

FinTech Scotland is an independent not for profit body jointly established by the financial services sector, universities and Scottish Government to ensure that Scotland seizes the FinTech opportunities and achieves positive economic and social outcomes by encouraging financial innovation, collaboration and inclusion as part of the country’s broader digital economy objectives.

The organisation acts as a strategic enabler and cluster management body focused on leveraging the potential economic (i.e. productivity, business creation, employment) and social (i.e. financial inclusion, well-being and accessibility) benefits arising from becoming a leading global centre focused on Fintech innovation.

FinTech Scotland’s objectives are to develop an innovative community of FinTech firms, generate impactful collaborations between firms of all sizes and foster an inclusive cluster which is globally recognised and connected.

In January 2020, FinTech Scotland was formally recognised for the development for the Fintech cluster in Scotland and accredited with the bronze label for Cluster Management Excellence by the European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis.

FinTech Scotland was initially founded in January 2018 as a joint initiative by Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC, University of Edinburgh, Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise. The organisation is now supported by a broad range of global financial services, technology and professional services firms as well as the University of Edinburgh and the University of Strathclyde, the Financial Conduct Authority, Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise.

Social media handles

Facebook – @FinTechScotland
Twitter – @FinTechScotland
Linked In – @FinTechScotland
YouTube – @FinTechScotland

Case Studies News

The Retail Academy – Leveraging Collective Impact To Forge Routes To Market For Social Products

Social Investment Scotland, Asda, Rachael Brown and the Scottish Government leverage collective impact to forge routes to market for social products.

Can Do Collective speak with Lindsay Wake, Head of Impact, Social Investment Scotland (SIS) to find out more about why the collective impact approach was so important for the successful delivery of the Retail

The SIS Retail Academy is designed to provide the very best training, guidance and support for social
entrepreneurs. It aims to inspire, offer practical insight and knowledge and the opportunity to meet with retail and corporate buyers who will provide expert feedback and may wish to develop a future buyer-supplier relationship.


SIS Retail Academy, 30/05/2019:
Rachael Brown, SIS associate.
Photography for Social Investment Scotland from: Colin Hattersley Photography – – – 07974 957 388.

The project is based on the premise that there is demand from consumers for ethical and social products, however many of these products are not readily available to purchase from major stockists. The academy was built around Asda’s existing supplier development academy but has now been further developed to deliver something specifically for social enterprises.

Funded by the Scottish Government, and by Asda, and curated by SIS’s social entrepreneur in residence, Rachael Brown, The Retail Academy is a three-day event bringing together a carefully curated selection of volunteer experts with several social enterprise peers, supporting them to develop their business strategies and learn more about their routes to market.

The three-day programme is a platform for experts to share their knowledge around emerging market trends and personal business experiences. It also includes a trip to an Asda warehouse and store, as well as masterclass and peer dinners where extended support organisations are invited. It culminates in a pitching session to buyers, with the intention that some social enterprises then go on to secure placement on the shelves of major stockists.

Last year the academy worked with Edinburgh University (a SIS funder) and Historic Environment Scotland who attended as a buyer, offering an important new route to market as well as sharing their industry expertise. Several successful social enterprises including Brewgooder, Hey Girl, Shetland Soap Company, Scottish Design Exchange, and Locavore also attended, to share their own experiences.


With this type of programme, it is difficult to express the full outcomes and impact, which are future-focused and likely to be experienced over some time. However, there are strong indications that the programme will have deep and ongoing impacts on individuals and their organisations. In the next 12 months, SIS will conduct a detailed research piece to find out the longer-term impacts of each of the academies. It’s as much about understanding customers and routes to market, which may not actually be via retail, as it is about securing sales and shelf space.

Highlights from the 2019 Retail Academy include:

  • Encouraging responses from all buyers and procurement professionals who attended the academy and who continue to be supporters of the enterprises, through mentoring, advice, introductions and moving towards supplier relationships
  • 29 separate introductions between the social enterprises and buyer teams took place
  • 4 opportunities being actively developed between social enterprises and buyers
  • 3 social enterprises have also benefited from invitation-only training offers from specialist support organisations Zero Waste Scotland and Food and Drink Scotland
  • Feedback from delegates has been overwhelmingly positive with 100% of delegates recommending the Retail Academy for others.
SIS Retail Academy, 30/05/2019:
Alan Mahon, Brewgooder, in panel discussion.
Photography for Social Investment Scotland from: Colin Hattersley Photography – – – 07974 957 388.

Over the last three years, The Retail Academy has supported 46 social entrepreneurs including Brewgooder who attended the first event. Since then, they have gone on to be stocked in Asda, Tesco, The Co-Operative (90 branches) and Aldi (78 Scottish branches) with all donations from each sale going towards helping to deliver clean water projects. Since their establishment, Brewgooder has helped fund 60 projects for over 33k people in Malawi and continue to work towards their mission to sponsor clean water charities in developing countries and impact one million people.

With regards to the wider implications, the project bears on Scotland, The social enterprise sector generally supports principles of wellbeing and inclusive economies bringing important social benefits to Scotland, as well as supporting economic outputs such as creating and sustaining jobs. The latest projections reveal that social enterprises support over 88,000 jobs and generated close to £2.3 billion gross value to the country’s economy in 2019.

Lindsay Wake concludes,

“Without the Retail Academy, this journey for a social enterprise could take years and might not even happen but collectively bringing together that whole room of curated support is powerful. Propelling these social enterprises on their journey, with all of these different organisations around them, coming in at the right stages, keeps them on that track and able to get there. If each element was separate, the outcome wouldn’t be the same.”

For more information visit

About Social Investment Scotland

SIS (Social Investment Scotland), is a social enterprise and charity. We offer loan funding and business support for other social enterprises, charities, and community groups looking to make a positive impact on people’s lives, society, or the environment. Our vision is for an Impact Economy; where social entrepreneurs, businesses, consumers, investors, and government are aligned and focused on delivering impactful actions and meaningful outcomes.

SIS was established in 2001 to provide a new finance model for Scotland’s charities and social enterprises. Since then it has invested over £80m across Scotland. Loan finance via Social Investment Scotland is available from £10,000 to £1.6M and is aimed at community enterprises and social businesses that might find access to finance from mainstream providers difficult. Social Investment Scotland also helps to manage funds on behalf of third parties with any profits being re-invested into social business development in Scotland. Social Investment Scotland currently manages the largest social enterprise fund in Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government.

Case Studies

Unlocking Young Ambition student placement programme seeks to inspire the next generation of potential entrepreneurs

Can Do Collective speak with Geoff Leask, Chief Executive of Young Enterprise Scotland to find out more about why the collective impact was so important for the success of The Unlocking Young Ambition student placement programme.

The Unlocking Young Ambition student placement programme seeks to inspire the next generation of potential entrepreneurs and provide inclusive work experience opportunities. It facilitated 40 work placements for students aged 16-30 from a diverse range of backgrounds, enabling them to spend valuable time inside inspirational organisations.


The collaboration began in May 2019, as there was a recognition that students studying in colleges and other further education facilities, don’t always get the same attention when it comes to entrepreneurial activities. Geoff Leask, Chief Executive of Young Enterprise Scotland comments,

“We know from experience of working in colleges through our Bridge 2 Business programme that there is a huge amount of talent in there and often these students don’t have the wherewithal to be able to tap into all of the opportunities available to them so we have worked to create a means to overcome this.

Through discussion with Scottish Enterprise, we developed an opportunity for the companies supported as part of our Unlocking Young Ambition programme to create real-life entrepreneurial experiences within those companies, for the benefit of the students. These placements are designed to connect the young company with talented individuals across Scotland who might bring a fresh spin or thought train to the business,”

concluded Geoff.

Funded and delivered by Scottish Enterprise and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the programme was launched and highlighted to colleges across the country and in the first year, they received 90 applications from students across the further education network. Final candidates were then shortlisted through a series of interviews that took place at Scottish Enterprise in Glasgow and from there, the programme placed 40 young people within organisations.

Unlocking Young Ambition ambassador companies, hosting students included Pillow, Talking Medicines, MyWay Digital Health, ARX Maritime, The Start-Up Drinks Lab (Drinkly) and Phox Water. All travel expenses were covered for each of the students participating in the programme.


Research is currently underway to determine the exact outcome of the 40 placements that were secured, however, the recent global pandemic has made outcomes a lot harder to measure. It is hoped that some of these placements will have resulted in ongoing relationships and future job opportunities.

Examples of successful placements included:

  • Students Jai Dara Latto and Shauny Bishop of Edinburgh & Fife College applied for Unlocking Young Ambition to gain knowledge and experience of working in a start-up to help their personal development. They carried out market research amongst Drinkly’s customer base to help inform future marketing and operational decisions.
  • Edinburgh College students Liam Inglis, Fabio Scaglione and Alexander Hunter secured a placement with ARX MARITIME learning about sales techniques and proactively looking at lead generation to help put those techniques into practice. Fabio Scaglione, who was a student on the Unlocking Young Ambition programme comments, “It’s really interesting to see how you translate your idea into a company, and then how you run a business and make money out of it.”
  • Tyler Shankland, Stephanie Governo and Gemma Kerr, students of Ayrshire College spent two days working with the ambassador, Pillow. The students researched and analysed social media trends before presenting their findings to the team. Tyler Shankland comments, “It’s been fantastic to get real hands-on experience of working in a real entrepreneurial business like Pillow. Scott took the time to find out what we were interested in doing and has tailored our experience accordingly.”

Lisa Wardlaw, Senior Programme Executive, Bridge 2 Business Programme comments,

“The collaboration is an amazing example of how some of Scotland’s top entrepreneurs and their businesses have shown support to Further Education students across Scotland. They have used their strengths to create a genuine impact for the students we work with, through the Bridge 2 Business programme at Young Enterprise Scotland.”

The wider mission for The Unlocking Young Ambition student placement programme is to change the mindsets of young people in Scotland and open their eyes to opportunities that may otherwise never have crossed their radars.

Entrepreneurial companies are often not the obvious career choices for young people looking to secure their first job opportunity so not only does this programme expand the horizons of those applying, but it also opens up a pool of talent to these startups. Not least, the programme also allows The Unlocking Young Ambition ambassadors to give something back by allowing these young people to come and experience their enterprises, following all of the support they themselves received as part of the wider programme.

To find out more about the project visit

About Young Enterprise

​Young Enterprise Scotland has been inspiring & equipping young people to learn, develop and reach their full potential through enterprise since 1992. Every year supporting around 16,000 young people, from all backgrounds, to develop business knowledge, entrepreneurial skills & ultimately become more employable. They aim to:

  • Enhance entrepreneurial attitudes of young people in Scotland;
  • Improve the enterprise skills of young people in Scotland;
  • Strengthen the work readiness of Scotland’s young people.

Their dedicated team are supported by over 500 volunteers from the Scottish business community to help realise their vision for Scotland to be a place where all young people have the opportunity to experience a rewarding future in work/life – no matter where they start their journey. They believe passionately in ‘Enterprise for All’ and deliver a wide range of programmes to ensure our work can reach ALL young people.