Case Studies

Scottish EDGE – Entrepreneurship, for change.

‘The Collective NSET Spotlight Series’ is a campaign in which certain Can Do Collective members respond to the 2022 National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET); introducing and showcasing their individual efforts that will effectively contribute to the wider social, economic and environmental transformation of Scotland.

Founded with the drive to identify, invest-in and nurture Scotland’s Entrepreneurial ideas, Scottish EDGE is a funding competition for our nation’s up-and-coming talent.

EDGE is funded by the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Hunter Foundation, Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise and deliver three categories: Scottish EDGE, Young EDGE and Wild Card EDGE. Businesses that apply to the competition can be awarded with up to £100,000, which is a life-changing amount for some of Scotland’s most talented entrepreneurs.

Scottish Edge Awards 18 – image © Sandy Young Photography

As we continue our ‘Collective NSET Spotlight Series’, we spoke to Scottish EDGE about their response to the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET):

Scottish EDGE are committed to supporting the implementation of the Government’s 10-year NSET plan, and their contributions to the wider ecosystem already play a transformative role within the talent-pool. Not only does this apply to their funding awards, but to inspiring and building entrepreneurial mindsets within the nation, something that the NSET touches on. Evelyn McDonald, CEO of Scottish EDGE comments thatwhat they do ‘is not just about winners.  It is about encouraging businesses to consider and explore entrepreneurship.  Our commitment to detailed feedback for every one of our applicants is aimed at encouraging, inspiring, directing and helping every single person who considers going into business as a career option.’

Alongside their funding competitions, Scottish EDGE already contribute to the NSET’s national ambition of creating “a world class entrepreneurial infrastructure of institutions and programmes providing a high intensity pathway. Evelyn continues:

‘Scottish EDGE is already contributing to this aim having delivered a nationally recognized quality competition to identify and support Scotland’s early-stage, innovative, high-growth potential entrepreneurial talent since 2013.  We pride ourselves on working collaboratively with the entrepreneurial support system to identify the applicants who come forward.  In addition, we recruit around 100 volunteer judges in every round harnessing the business community and engaging them in helping us to meet our aims.  Our network of 450 trading Alumni now represents a growing resource to support, mentor and in some cases fund up and coming entrepreneurs and includes several Scottish success stories such as Current Health, TV Squared, Sunamp, Beer52 and Ooni.’

Scottish EDGE’s ambition to promote entrepreneurial learning in schools and post-16 education is also being actioned:

‘In partnership with Young Enterprise Scotland and three lecturers in Entrepreneurship from Heriot Watt University and the University of Strathclyde we are currently developing a double period Business Management lesson featuring the importance of small business to the Scottish economy, the story of two EDGE winning businesses, judging some EDGE pitches ‘Dragons Den-style’ and what it’s like to work in a small business.  Our aim is to roll this out to all the participants in the YES Company Programmes and to every secondary school to use in their standard grade and Higher Business Management Courses.’

Commenting on key actions and programmes of work within the strategy, Scottish EDGE highlighted three key areas that are mentioned in NSET:

Entrepreneurial People and Culture

Within this programme of action, there is an action to ‘Create a national system of ‘pre-scaler hubs’ to help new businesses with high growth prospects access world class support and advice.’

Our team member, Ken Whipp, heads up the Scaleup Scotland programme funded by the Hunter Foundation and Scottish Government.  Our collective ambition is to support fellow entrepreneurs to build world class, scalable businesses by sharing experience, access and networks to drive dynamic growth.

As part of executing the 10-year transformational strategy, the Scottish Government are also wanting to attract international students to Scotland. This would mean that our Universities would need to be provide support in order to provide “post educational pathways”

Scottish EDGE pride ourselves on offering funding to entrepreneurial talent from abroad.  A recent example of this can be seen in the inaugural Net Zero EDGE where all three winners – one from Australia, one from Germany and one from Poland – had started their businesses after studying in the UK.  Scottish EDGE is also an endorser of the Startup and Innovator Visa and has helped two Indian entrepreneurs to gain their visas and is currently supporting a young Russian entrepreneur with her visa application.

New Market Opportunities  

An ambition of NSET is to create new market opportunities throughout various industries across Scotland. A particular area of focus that Scottish EDGE are already creating innovative test beds for is new technologies:

Through specific categories of the competition such as Net Zero EDGE, Circular Economy EDGE and Industrial Biotechnology EDGE we are encouraging businesses to innovate in new technologies which could both benefit Scotland and create success in international markets.

A Fairer and More Equal Society

Scottish EDGE also contribute to NSET’s want to include “fair work conditionality to grants, requiring payment of real living wage, and channels for effective workers’ voice.”

Scottish EDGE introduced Impact as a criterion two years ago and is now ensuring all our applicants and winners consider their impact socially, on their workers and communities, as well as their impact on the environment.

Scottish EDGE, among many other Collective members, are working together to build collective action and impact over the next 10 years as the NSET is rolled out.

To learn more about Scottish EDGE, check out their website.

Are you supporting businesses in Scotland? Find out how you can join the Can Do Collective.

If you are a Can Do member and you would like to share how you are supporting NSET, get in touch and feature in this series! Email us: