Entrepreneurial mindset key to Scotland's economic recovery - comment

With the Scottish business and entrepreneurial ecosystems facing a lengthy, and likely, rocky road to recovery, Fiona Godsman explores why entrepreneurs can be instrumental in helping to knit the economy back together with forward-thinking innovation and a strongly collaborative ethos.

It’s an appropriate time to take forward new thinking and approaches, says Godsman. Picture: John Devlin.
It’s an appropriate time to take forward new thinking and approaches, says Godsman. Picture: John Devlin.

Never in our lifetime have we faced such a challenging period in both our professional and personal lives – but as a better-defined road to recovery starts to emerge, it is now vital to recognise how the country can start to sow the seeds of renewed business confidence.

In Scotland, we have cultivated one of the most dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystems in the world and we have succeeded in disrupting industries with outstanding ideas. At Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE), for more than 20 years we have provided a platform for future decision-makers to formulate their innovative ideas and realise their potential through mentoring and funding. It’s now more crucial than ever to champion this as we look to stabilise our economic future again.

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Agile entrepreneurs can see solutions that others don’t, and think pragmatically to achieve goals, and are resolute in pushing themselves further – all the qualities we need to drive positive change.

Their adaptable qualities will no doubt be a further huge asset in the challenging times ahead. It’s encouraging, then, that inspiration has continued to take root and flourish. Our Fresh Ideas competition has retained its focus on seeking promising ideas from students and recent graduates, underlining Scotland as a hotbed of innovation.

In recent weeks, we were also able to announce the winners of our Catalyst Award who enjoyed a share of £16,000 and will receive two years’ dedicated support. Among them was the University of Glasgow’s Marwa Ebrahim who pitched skincare products tailored through artificial intelligence (AI)-powered customisation. Joe Gibson, a University of Strathclyde student, outlined his vision for a kinetic counter-drone solution controlled by AI to maintain safe airspace.

While I am acutely aware of the negative effect that the pandemic may have on start-ups, we also need to acknowledge the positive economic impact they can realise to counter that. Indeed, it’s an appropriate time to take forward new thinking and approaches. If we don’t, we risk losing a generation of valuable start-ups.

With this in mind, I was pleased to learn that Scottish entrepreneurs and small start-ups will have access to a share of £75 million following an agreement between British Business Investments and Edinburgh-based venture capital firm Par Equity. I’m hopeful it will give confidence to entrepreneurs across Scotland who heed the clear message that we recognise their value to society.

Nobody will escape the pandemic’s impact, but providing entrepreneurs with a platform for success can only be fruitful – they will remain our key change-makers and we must harness that. We must recognise the opportunity amid the challenge and grasp the chance to identify and showcase the best of Scotland’s emerging talent for collective benefit.

Fiona Godsman, chief executive at SIE

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