Case Studies News

The Lens & Young Enterprise Scotland Form A Collective Alliance To Recognise & Nurture Intrapreneurial Talent

Intrapreneurs from Young Enterprise Scotland, social enterprise Columba 1400 and Highland Hospice.

Steve McCreadie, Chief Executive Creator and Founder of The Lens, talks to the Collective about why collective impact, and working in collaboration with others, is helping them and the many organisations they work with to grow, thrive and make a difference.  He also shares insight into a collaboration with fellow Can Do Collective Partner Young Enterprise Scotland, plus Columba 1400 and Highland Hospice.


The Lens is a charity built on working in collaboration with others in Scotland – internally and externally – to generate wider reach and create a bigger impact.  An approach very much aligned to the broader ambitions of the Can Do Collective.

Steve explains;

“I am absolutely confident that within every organisation lies a huge amount of hidden talent and ideas that don’t get enough attention. At The Lens, we aim to find a way to work with organisations to release that talent, put it into action on a day-to-day basis to improve people’s lives, find the best ones, and scale them up.

“The principal of intrapreneurship is acting like an entrepreneur inside a large organisation. At The Lens, we have consistently found that the people closest to the problems faced by customers often have the best solutions – but that those ideas rarely make it into reality. Intrapreneurship unlocks that potential. By developing the mindset and skills of intrapreneurs, people, teams and colleagues can become a community of change-makers that inspire and influence others to see and think differently.”

As well as nurturing talent within organisations, The Lens share the Can Do Collective’s mission that connections and collaboration can generate greater results.  Steve says,

“I think one of the beauties of Scotland is that it is a small country which can often mean people are well connected. When you work together, and in collaboration, and you work collectively you can have a much greater impact than if you were to work solely. It is also enormously inspiring to know that your efforts as a single organisation are actually aligned with others.”


It was the concepts of both collaborative working and ‘intrapreneurship’, that led to a close alliance between The Lens and fellow Can Do Collective Partner, Young Enterprise Scotland. Steve shares a recent example of the ways in which collaboration between peers within the Can Do Collective ecosystem can lead to real results.

“Geoff Leask from Young Enterprise Scotland approached us, and we partnered to help develop ‘intrapreneurial’ and entrepreneurial behaviours in Young Enterprise Scotland. Our work at The Lens aims to help organisations drive ideas from the ground up.  Geoff and his team were inspired by this and we worked together on a tailored programme, which has led to direct impact and a genuine shift in the way that the organisation listens to and responds to its front-line employees.  They have opened communication between the board and their teams on the ground and have an open forum to allow front line staff to bring forward their ideas for consideration by the board. There’s been a fundamental change in the way the business works, and it is driving results.”

Steve continues;

“We enabled a collaboration between Young Enterprise Scotland, social enterprise Columba 1400 and Highland Hospice.  The three organisations have worked together on our bespoke programme that allows front line staff to bring their ideas forward, develop and test them.  It’s been a genuinely collaborative approach that, in Young Enterprise Scotland, led to an idea that has secured £7k investment for a prototype to develop pathways to digital careers for young women – a concept that was generated by a front-line worker.  Columba 1400 and Highland Hospice also secured investment of £8k and £5k respectively, for ideas to develop Leadership and support bereaved families. A great example of both collaborative working and intrapreneurship at play.”

Young Enterprise Scotland have now embedded this approach into their culture and have shifted their idea generation to help them achieve their mission to improve the lives of young people.

Geoff Leask comments,

“Working with Steve and his team at the Lens a couple of years ago has helped us to recognise and develop the intrapreneurial talent that we have within our wonderful team at Young Enterprise Scotland. Two years down the line we now have our own internal version of the Lens as a part of our business development planning schedule called the ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goals’ (BHAG’s) and are developing three initiatives from the front-line delivery team that will help us to achieve our strategic ambition of ‘Enterprise for All’.”

Further Impact:

Though a charity, The Lens has grown by around 30% year on year and continues to collaborate with businesses across Scotland.  Over the past five years, The Lens has helped more than 200 entrepreneurs, secure one and a half million pounds worth of investment in their ideas – ideas that were hidden and not being acted upon.  And moving forward, they are set to help even more organisations, with the launch of a digital platform, to allow and enable entrepreneurial behaviour inside companies across Scotland.

Some of their key achievements have included helping organisations to increase innovation skills, increase engagement, increase motivation of staff, increase capacity across an organisation, and helping to find ideas that genuinely generate income and save money.

Some additional projects that The Lens have driven forward include;

  • Working collectively with Children’s Hospice Across Scotland on a transformative project to create a new community network of paediatric palliative care pharmacists across Scotland that never existed before.
  • Working with Renfrewshire Council to establish their ‘Interpretive Bank’ – an idea inspired by an employee there who remembered coming to Scotland and what it was like not being able to speak English when she was eight years old. The innovative idea brought together a team for whom English is not the first language, as interpreters. As a result, the council became more accessible to more people, provided employment opportunities and saved up to 60% of the council’s translation budget.
  • Working with Beatson Cancer Care charity intrapreneurs Lisa Stanulis & Gail Richmond, Beatson Cancer Care Charity, worked with The Lens to help them to bring to life BeCalm – personal access to guided meditation and relaxation music that helps patients to cope better with stays in hospital and enables them to take home their own relaxation toolkit.
  • Working with Alzheimer Scotland over three years, to help to deliver new ways of supporting people living with dementia.

Anyone interested in finding out more about The Lens can visit;

Blogs News

Reflections on the Scotland CAN B Impact Economy Advisors Training

Can Do Collective Producer, Rachel Wallace, reflects on her experience as part of the first cohort of Scotland CAN B’s Impact Economy Advisors Training.

It’s almost three weeks since I finished Scotland CAN B’s Impact Economy Advisors Training alongside 15 entrepreneurial support professionals and business advisors invited to join the very first cohort. The training is designed for those who want to learn how to help the businesses they support to understand, define, measure, and improve their environmental, social and governance performance. Not being a business advisor myself, I was in a unique position aiming to:

  • Experience the training first-hand in order to actively signpost and champion it to business advisors within The Can Do Collective and;
  • Use the learning to support organisations in The Collective reflect on their own impact measurement practice at both an individual and (crucially for us) a collective level, as a growing cross-sector community of enterprise support professionals serving businesses of all kinds in Scotland.

Among the cohort were a number of organisations who belong to The Collective and align to the vision and values of the Scotland Can Do movement, including ConvergeInvesting WomenPurpose HRAAI Employability, and Tech Nation to name a few. This is a real testament to The Collective’s desire to play a leading role in building a wellbeing economy and harnessing business as a force for good.

For me, the training was extremely thought-provoking and challenging, and found myself really looking forward to the next instalment of coaching and peer-learning each week! We covered a variety of content including; connecting to the local and global context of the future of business, frameworks for impact, including the SDGs and Scotland’s NPF, and how to apply them in a business context, in-depth understanding of the broad range of impactful business models and legal structures, and using a selection of comprehensive and cutting-edge impact measurement tools.

The learning from this course and our strategic partnership with Scotland Can B will inform the Can Do Collective’s commitment to define and develop a shared measurement framework that will articulate and demonstrate their contribution to Scotland becoming a world-leading entrepreneurial, innovative and creative society.
This content was broken into 8 modules and together comprised a cyclical, comprehensive and holistic ‘Impact Journey’ of understanding, measuring, and managing social, environmental, and governance performance. The ‘Impact Journey’ methodology covers a lot of ground but is extremely accessible, providing ample opportunity to pause and dig deeper into key topics, tools and frameworks but not lose sight of how each can fit into the overall impact journey an individual, organisation or community might like to embark on.

I would warmly recommend this training to anyone who is interested in growing their impact advisory skillset. You can check out the Scotland CAN B website and join their mailing list or follow on social media to get the latest information about applying for the next cohort this summer!

For businesses looking to understand, define, measure and improve their environmental, social and governance performance, ask your business advisors if they’ve heard of this programme or have taken part, and explore the website for more information on the tools and resources available to support you on your impact measurement journey.

More about Scotland CAN B

Launched by the Scottish Government in 2018, Scotland CAN B exists to build a nationwide culture of business as a force for good in Scotland, as a catalyst for place-based systems change. It is the first nationwide programme of its kind.

Scotland CAN B is an initiative launched in partnership between the Scottish Government and B Lab (the non profit organisation behind B Corp certification) to explore what happens when you combine the entrepreneurial, innovative and business for good ambitions of one country.

Scotland CAN B is on a mission to build a nationwide culture of business as a force for good in Scotland, towards creating a wellbeing economy.

There are two strands to Scotland CAN B’s work:

  • Strand #1: Fostering an Impact Culture: Cultivating coherence and alignment in the mindset, language, tools and frameworks used to leverage business for good in Scotland.
  • Strand #2: Developing & Delivering Impact Trainings: Supporting businesses learn to measure and manage their social, environmental, and governance performance, and understand their impact towards the SDGs and Scotland’s National Performance Framework, through ‘Impact Journey’ trainings for businesses and business advisors.
Blogs News

Can Do Collective Good News Roundup

Passionate about demonstrating ways in which collaborative working between Scottish businesses can help to accelerate growth and nurture entrepreneurial spirit, The Can Do Collective has been a driving force for post-COVID recovery plans across the nation in recent months.

A number of recent collaborations show just how much of an impact, businesses can have when they work together toward shared goals; we have created the blog post below, which offers just a snapshot of some of the amazing news generated by a selection of Can Do Partners in 2021.

Hazel Jane, Entrepreneur Engagement Manager for Tech Nation and convener for The Can Do Collective comments;

“By working together effectively, we can dramatically increase the odds of success in our endeavour to make Scotland a Can Do nation. There has never been a more important or relevant time to drive the positive social and economic benefits generated through nurturing entrepreneurialism.

Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) and Royal Bank of Scotland have joined forces to launch #FemaleBoss programme for Scotland’s college students

Can Do Partners Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) and Royal Bank of Scotland have joined forces to launch the #FemaleBoss programme for Scotland’s college students, to encourage and inspire more women to set up their own businesses.  The programme is being targeted at 18-30 year-olds through all further education colleges across Scotland, and is delivered through five online sessions hosted by inspiring Scottish female entrepreneurs.  The programme will also offer support through small grants, coaching, mentoring and collaboration, and hopes to spark female entrepreneurship among students impacted by a shrinking jobs market caused by COVID.

In Scotland, female-led businesses currently contribute £8.8billion to the economy and it is estimated that by helping female-led firms achieve future success, it could add a further £13bn to the local economy. Cabinet Secretary for Finance Kate Forbes comments;

“It is estimated that closing the entrepreneurial gender gap could grow the Scottish economy by as much as 5%, creating around 35,000 jobs. It is time we realised that economic potential, not just for Scotland’s economic future but also so that women can reap the benefits and share the enthusiasm and excitement of taking control of their own economic future – of being the boss.”

Scottish EDGE sees record applications for its business funding competition despite pandemic

Applications to the business funding competition delivered by Can Do Partner Scottish Edge have increased by 24%, with a record 305 applications for their 17th funding round which will take place in May 2021. The increase in applications suggests a high level of activity on Scotland’s start-up scene, with female co-founders representing 57% of the applications for the current round.

The social enterprise scheme is supported by the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Hunter Foundation, the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise. It was first launched in 2013 and has since awarded more than £16m in grants and loans, supporting more than 420 businesses. Sir Tom Hunter has also funded independent analysis into Scottish EDGE’s past winners. The research carried out by Ekos, found that Edge-supported businesses helped generate more than 850 jobs and a gross value added (GVA) of £67.9m.

The RSE launches funding initiative to kick-start academic research in response to pandemic

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), Can Do Partner and Scotland’s national academy, has announced a new funding initiative to help tackle the impact of Covid-19. The RSE Research ‘Re-Boot (Covid-19 IMPACT) Research Grant’ – will provide financial backing for academics of up to £25,000 to restart existing research, or kick-start new work.

The fund was created to support anyone whose work has been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19, and applications are particularly encouraged from one or more of the following groups: those who have taken on caring responsibilities due to Covid-19, disabled, LGBTQIA+, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and/or Early Career Researchers (ECRs). Successful applicants will not only receive financial support but will also be part of a unique peer support network enabling the sharing of experience and knowledge from RSE Fellows.

New report highlights significant benefits to Scotland’s economy and society for business-academic partnerships supported by Interface

A new report, exploring the ways in which local, national and international businesses have gained from tapping into Scotland’s universities and colleges through the matching service delivered by Can Do Partner Interface, has highlighted significant benefits to Scotland’s economy and society. Dr Siobhán Jordan, Director of Interface, said:

“This report shows the significant gains right across Scotland, from the smallest community to the largest city, when innovation and ideas flourish through businesses and academic partnerships. We are in a unique position to make a real difference to all aspects of society through the connections we catalyse enabling world-leading research to be purposeful.”

The contribution to the Scottish economy from research and development projects between businesses and academics enabled by Interface, was £88.9m GVA (gross value added), and supported 1,595 jobs, with expectations to reach £222.3 million GVA and 3,193 jobs. The findings also captured the wider wellbeing and environmental benefits to society as the collaborative projects tackled major challenges such as health improvement, low carbon, community support, delivering education, helping young people, supporting international development and alleviating poverty.

Funded by The Scottish Government and supported by a dedicated team within independent charity Entrepreneurial Scotland Foundation, The Can Do Collective is a connected community of enterprise support organisations and leaders on a mission to build a world-leading entrepreneurial, innovative and creative society.

If you’re a Can Do Partner, we’d love to hear from you and share your news! Get in touch and tell us your story via the contact form below.

Not a Partner and want to learn more about The Can Do Collective, head over to

Blogs News

Scotland CAN B Impact Economy Business Advisors Training

This week I am really pleased to be joining the first cohort of the CAN B Impact Economy Business Advisors Training.

It’s a four-week learning journey, specifically targeted at individuals and businesses who want to learn more about how to support, understand, define, measure and improve their environmental, social and governance performance.

Rachel Wallace – Programme Manager, Scotland Can Do

Scotland Can Do

Scotland Can B have been championing the Scotland Can Do ambition since 2018. My participation marks our team’s wider commitment to share achievements, opportunities and learnings so that every leader and organisation in the Can Do Collective has the chance to improve their contribution to building a wellbeing economy for Scotland.

Over the next few weeks, I’m looking forward to developing my understanding of good impact measurement practice and applying the learning to our context of building a community-level measurement framework with the Can Do Collective.

Perhaps most importantly, this journey will enable our team to support and foster a culture of impact across the community. It will not only accelerate our ability to understand the impact created by The Collective as a whole, but help them discover their own economic, social, environmental, and cultural impact at an individual, organisational level.

Collective Impact – why is this so important?

Because impact insight at both the community and organisational level will allow The Collective to identify and deliver on aligned outcomes, which will in turn help us prove that impact can be amplified and strengthened when parties collaborate.

I am really looking forward to getting stuck into the training and learning from others in the cohort. I’ll be sharing my takeaways with you and our Can Do Collective community on completion of the training so stay tuned!

News Press Releases

Can Do Collective Elects Hazel Jane as their New Convener

The Can Do Collective – a connected community of enterprise support organisations and leaders on a mission to build a world-leading entrepreneurial, innovative and creative society – has today announced the election of Hazel Jane – Entrepreneur Engagement Manager for Tech Nation – as their new convener.  

Elected every two years, the Can Do Collective conveners’ role is to drive momentum for the Can Do Movement across Scotland, building on its reputation as a beacon globally in entrepreneurial eco-systems and supporting the growth of this powerful community of inspiring entrepreneurial leaders, who in turn deliver impact for Scotland.

Entrepreneur Engagement Manager for Tech Nation will harness her global expertise to drive the Collective forward to help build Scotland’s future.

Hazel Jane comments,

“As an entrepreneur engagement manager for Tech Nation covering all of Scotland, my primary role is very much speaking with founders, stakeholders and government as well as liaising with my colleagues across the rest of the UK, to understand what our eco-system looks like on a UK landscape and how we can be doing better, and how we can thrive. It is exactly these insights and experiences that I intend to bring to the Collective so that we can continue to support our business community to thrive here.”

Founded upon a shared belief that Scotland has always been a ‘Can Do’ nation, the aim of the community today is to work together to enable entrepreneurs of all kinds to flourish and to prove that by working collaboratively they can increase the odds of success.

Hazel continues,

“I am fully committed to genuinely helping with the issues that we are facing in Scotland and the rest of the UK right now. Brexit, in particular, has hit businesses in ways that we didn’t imagine. This is something that we, as entrepreneur support organisations will have to think about and hopefully share a lot of knowledge around.

“With regards to the pandemic, I think that there are still a lot of unknowns, and it’s really important to touch on the fact that these challenges aren’t just financial – there is an immense amount of change for business owners and entrepreneurs, who are leading their employees into a world that we don’t yet understand. Successful business recovery in a post-pandemic era is also going to require a new world of working and I hope that we will be front runners, leading by example.”

Concluding, Hazel Jane comments,

“I believe that the role of the Collective is to share genuine best practise and support one another to get behind movements. For me, this is about being able to reach a huge group of companies that work to drive entrepreneurship and, supporting them with information and advice that will help to drive change and growth from within. Everything that the eco-system is doing is for the greater good of all entrepreneurship in Scotland.

The Can Do Collective is funded by The Scottish Government and supported by a dedicated team within the independent charity Entrepreneurial Scotland Foundation. Made up of over 70 public, private and social enterprise support organisations from across all corners of Scotland, The Collective community represents 16 industry sectors. 

Case Studies News

Can Do Collective Celebrates Resilient Business Pioneers of 2020

Covid-19 has had a significant impact on businesses across Scotland. For many it has meant they have had to evolve and adapt their products and services, and support for their wider business community, in new and different ways.

For the Can Do Collective, it has meant taking all of their events online, however an online and virtual approach has allowed the Collective to increase their events programme from five events in 2019, to more than 33 virtual events and gatherings in 2020. They are also concluding the year celebrating a 25 per cent increase in community size.

Rachael Brown, Can Do Collective Convener and CEO, The Future Economy Company explains;

“We’ve seen many examples of how the Scottish business community has stepped up to provide a flexible, fast and appropriate response to individuals in need this year.  Business support communities have removed subscriptions and paywalls, more events and conferences have moved online and there has been a marked increase in the frequency of events.

“In times like these, community and peer to peer support is so vital.  Now more than ever, there’s an opportunity for businesses to really show their human side, to come together in trust and credibility.  We’ve been truly encouraged by the sense of community spirit, entrepreneurialism, agility and creativity we’ve witnessed and the willing to work collaboratively for the greater good.”

A number of businesses have shown great strength, resilience, agility and entrepreneurial spirit in the face of Covid-19 and have continued to support their respective business communities in challenging times.  One of the virtual events that the Can Do Collective has initiated as part of their new virtual events programme, is the Partner Spotlight webinar series, which has seen business leaders from around Scotland share their leadership journey and advice for drawing on community, creativity and resilience.  Here, some of them share their journey through 2020.

Social Investment Scotland:

One of those leaders is Alastair Davis, Chief Executive of Social Investment Scotland (SIS) – the leading social enterprise whose aim is to help social enterprises to scale and grow their business.  He explains;

“The global pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way we all work.  Back in March, there was a realisation that Covid-19 was going to have a significant impact.  So as a team, we quickly started to think about ways to support our community.  We wanted to go out to them and say, ‘we’re here to support you’.  Organisations really appreciated that proactive, calm approach.  We were there from the start offering help, support and advice.  I’m really proud of that, and indeed the ways it has continued throughout the rest of this year.

“This year’s events have also shown us the energy that can be created when you work quickly, collaboratively, and responsively.  It has actually driven us to accelerate many of our plans and strategies, and we have been able to design, develop and launch things really quickly.  That’s certainly something I’d like to hold onto as we look post pandemic.

“It’s also taught us the value of investing in relationships and collaborations.  It’s so important to build communities like that created by the Can Do Collective that are supportive, curious and helpful.  Now more than ever, trust, credibility and collaboration are vital and will allow us to bounce back post pandemic, in whatever way that means for different businesses.”


Interface is an organisation that connects businesses with academics.  Dr Siobhán Jordan, Director, of Interface, explains the ways they have adapted to support their community through the global pandemic;

“A huge part of our work is about keeping in touch with businesses to understand the difference we are making, and the ways in which we can continue to support them further.  

“That put us in a strong position to be able to proactively support our community.  We were immediately helping to address challenges faced by the businesses we work with.  Many of them had to look at adapting their existing products, and many had to look at creating new products.  

“Proactive but empathetic has been our approach in helping businesses navigate through the pandemic, and also look ahead to recovery and green shoots.

“We’ve also been hugely excited about some of the new things we’ve been able to do.  For example, we’ve developed a campaign around ‘Adopt a business’.  We asked our academic community about ways they could help the tourism and hospitality industry, practically, as they start to think about  restarting and recovery.  We were overwhelmed by the interest from universities to offer practical help.  Working with VisitScotland and Scottish Tourism Alliance , we then had over 80 businesses keen to work with academia.  It’s a programme we’ve been able to launch and establish really rapidly but has also been brand new for us.

“We know the next few months are not going to be easy, but collectively, we in Scotland have an opportunity to come together to bring energy to the economic recovery and ensure we continue to build networks to nurture and support.  Support groups and organisations like the Can Do Collective are vital for us all to continue to seek knowledge, ask for help from others, and support one another.”

Scottish Edge:

A business that has been involved with the Can Do Collective since its inception, Evelyn McDonald, Chief Executive of Scottish Edge, The UK’s Biggest Business Funding Competition discusses ways in which their business has had to shift and evolve;

“I’ll admit, I found the initial few weeks after lockdown began in March, extremely challenging.  We had launched a competition at the end of January, and at the beginning, we kept going.  But there came a point when I had to make the difficult decision that we couldn’t continue.  Matched with the challenges all small businesses have had this year – having to put a couple of our team on furlough and having to cut costs and plan for the worst – it was pretty painful.

“But once we’d made the decision to pause the competition and focus on our 335 alumni of businesses, we knew immediately it was the right thing to do.  We’re really lucky to work with people who have great ideas, right at the early stages of their business and we became very focussed on providing support to those business, with a specific focus for those who have loans with us. We’ve been supporting with information on grants and loans, events, training, as well as peer to peer mentoring.  The great thing for us is the feedback we’ve had from our community.  We will hopefully come out of this with a stronger, more connected group of businesses.

“We’ve now announced our next competition, which we’re all incredibly invigorated by – it’s lovely to be looking forward to the next round which we will be launching in July and we will be inviting those previous applicants back and also opening to new ones.  The competition round subsequently attracted 327 applications, the largest number to date.

 “What’s been truly valuable throughout is the support from the wider Can Do Collective network.  We know there are a lot of willing hands and willing hearts out there to help us. A trusted network and group of people that are open to collaboration is what can help us all recover and look forward to 2021 with renewed energy.”

News Press Releases

Can Do Collective Seeks New Convener to Help Build Scotland’s Future

The Can Do Collective – a connected community of enterprise support organisations and leaders on a mission to build a world-leading entrepreneurial, innovative and creative society – has announced it has opened applications and nominations as it seeks to elect a new convener.

Elected every two years, a new Can Do Collective convener will take up the role in February 2021 and will drive momentum for the Can Do Movement across Scotland, building on its reputation as a beacon globally in entrepreneurial eco-systems and supporting the growth of this powerful community of inspiring entrepreneurial leaders who in turn deliver impact for Scotland.

The Can Do Collective are seeking a convener who demonstrates a supportive, flexible and strong sense of leadership, community and collaboration, and above all, an ability to bring people on the exciting and inspiring journey ahead for the Can Do Collective and for Scotland.

Rachael Brown, current Can Do Collective Convener and CEO, The Future Economy Company explains;

“Two years ago I took on the role of convener, knowing we had a big journey ahead of us. In that time, the world around us has changed, and more than ever we need strong, entrepreneurial, fast leadership. The Collective is testimony that a collective approach to impact and activity is possible and exactly what we need in a time of challenge. As we go forward, I would hope that Scotland continues to be a beacon for entrepreneurial spirit.

“It’s been an absolute privilege to be in the role of convener for the Can Do Collective over the past two years. This is a role that is hugely important, and The Can Do Collective is a powerful economic and societal asset for Scotland. I have every confidence that we will find the right person who will continue to drive the Collective forward.”

The Can Do Collective is funded by The Scottish Government and supported by a dedicated team within independent charity Entrepreneurial Scotland Foundation. Made up of over 60 public, private and social enterprise support organisations from across all corners of Scotland, The Collective community represents 16 industry sectors.

Founded upon a shared belief that Scotland has always been a ‘Can Do’ nation, the aim of the community today is to work together to enable entrepreneurs of all kinds to flourish, and to prove there is greater power and success in working collaboratively.

The application process for the role of convener is open to all partners of the Can Do Collective. The closing date for applications is Friday 4th December, and the new convener will begin their role in February 2021.

Case Studies News

AAI And Scottish EDGE Join Forces To Deliver Tailored Employment Opportunities for Scottish Entrepreneurs

Scottish EDGE, AAI and Triyit

Can Do Collective speak with Jack Proctor, Marketing & Comms Manager at Scottish EDGE and Nick Murray, Marketing and Partnership Lead for AAI to find out more about why collective impact was so important for the success of placing a Partnership Manager into the Triyit team.

Scottish EDGE and AAI EmployAbility have been in collaboration since EDGE formed in 2014 – with AAI supporting the hire of their first-ever team member. Since then, AAI has joined EDGE as a Business Growth Support Partner, offering tailored employment support for EDGE finalists.


Scottish EDGE looks to offer its winners an all-encompassing level of support which expands beyond the initial cash funding. Part of that process is ensuring that the businesses have access to vetted, exclusive support services at a free or heavily discounted rate.

Supporting growing startups is at the core of what drives AAI’s operation. Often, entrepreneurs struggle with the transition to becoming employers, so AAI offers consultation support to all EDGE finalists as well as a 60% discount on their premium inclusive recruitment service and aftercare.

The main aims of this partnership are to support Scottish high-growth potential entrepreneurs by demonstrating effective recruitment practices from the outset – with the additional benefit of creating valuable job opportunities for AAI’s diverse audience.

Nick Murray, Marketing and Partnership Lead for AAI comments,

“When EDGE began, we were doing a lot of work with the government around encouraging small teams to hire graduates and use short-term internships to unlock the potential of Entry-level candidates. We’ve been working with all of the EDGE finalists and guiding them through the transition from being a solo entrepreneurs or small founding teams holding on tightly to their plans and ideas and supporting them to make that difficult transition into becoming a leader and an employer. This is just one case study of so many EDGE finalists and winners that we have been able to support.”


Triyit, a product discovery club, on a mission to help consumers find their new favourite products, initially did a recruitment round with Indeed and weren’t happy with the process or applications that came through. Following this, they approached AAI just as they were making a transition to expand beyond the remit of graduate roles. Upon being approached by Triyit, Nick did everything he could to help and eventually found Ashleigh through an extensive LinkedIn head-hunting exercise.  He opened up conversations with her and quickly found that she wasn’t feeling fulfilled in her existing role. “The funny thing about this case study is that Triyit wanted to manage recruitment themselves because they thought that AAI at the time was about graduate internships and they were looking for a business development and salesperson with a couple of years experience. The catch twenty-two here is that young people don’t often choose to get into a sales role and the ones that are good at it, often don’t know that they are,” says Nick.

Ashleigh was very interested in the role and after Triyit had completed their first round of interviews and still not found anyone, Nick convinced them to interview Ashleigh. Triyit went on to recruit her into their team and she has since become a core part of the business.

Derek Connor, Director at Triyit, said,

“After being burned a couple of times looking for candidates in this role, we were cautious about this partnership, however, the effort that Nick specifically went to in order to find us the right candidate was above and beyond what we ever could have expected. Ashleigh is a huge asset to our organisations, and we are so pleased that AAI helped us to find her.”

Jack Proctor, Marketing & Comms Manager at Scottish EDGE comments,

“Our relationship with AAI really helps us get the right people into the right business and when it’s put to the test like this, the proof is in the pudding. Good employees are critical in supporting organisations to stay afloat, especially in these challenging times and Triyit is faring well over the course of the pandemic.”

Jack feels that from a partnership perspective, AAI goes above and beyond to make the collaboration work and continually make sure that they are really delivering on it. He comments,

“One thing that we are really adamant about with the partnerships is that the people we support are the ones that benefit most, and we ask our partners to put something on the table that is of genuine value to those businesses. I can’t think of a round where AAI hasn’t in some way collaborated with the businesses we have supported, and that support can be anything from giving them business advice, right through to placing someone in a team.”

So far AAI has supported 49 Scottish EDGE-winning businesses, creating 126 jobs in Scotland. Jack feels that the partnership with AAI ultimately creates a stronger support offering for the businesses who come through the competition. “We pride ourselves not only on the opportunity a win at a Scottish EDGE final can give a company, but also the support we can offer after. We monitor the survival and success rates of every EDGE winner, and how they grow their teams is a huge factor in how sustainable they’ll be in the long run.”

Nick comments, “I was an assessor for applications for EDGE right at the start of the pandemic and it was really difficult looking at some of the businesses, knowing that many would be deemed unviable as a direct result of COVID-19. To see what has come through in the last round, diverse businesses that I had never even heard of, doing incredible things, is testament to the entrepreneurial talent that Scottish EDGE attracts.  For us to be able to go out and listen to their pain points and advise on what a job position could be, and work with them to create really interesting and diverse jobs for candidates, is so rewarding. It’s about sustainability, it’s about relationships and it’s about helping these people unlock their potential in Scotland.”

Jack comments,

“Entrepreneurialism is a big organism in Scotland, it doesn’t operate in isolation and you can’t expect anything to reach its full potential when it’s a single entity. You need all of those different parts feeding in. We can provide the funding but without the right people coming in to direct the spend in the right place it wouldn’t be worth as much. We have a really specific role within a business and as impactful as that is, it wouldn’t be anything without those extra parts coming in.”

Nick concludes, “We speak to early-stage companies all of the time and I’m always saying, have you applied to Scottish EDGE? We are continually directing people to the platform so it’s a closed circle in terms of collaboration.”

Scottish EDGE has also created 4 jobs over the last 5 years with AAI, which further reinforces the strength of this partnership and the mutually beneficial opportunities that it creates for both organisations.

Growing companies that have been trading for less than 5 years, looking for that next stage of growth should contact Scottish EDGE directly for more information.

Businesses who want to work with a not-for-profit recruitment agency that is centered around people, inclusion and reaching a diverse audience should contact AAI EmployAbility.

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.