In the ever-evolving landscape of entrepreneurship, we have reached a pivotal point in time. As a nation, we have made quite the global impression.
In Scotland, we have built an enviable network of business support organisations, our ecosystem. There have however been talks recently regarding the desirability or potential complexity of such an extensive ecosystem that our entrepreneurs must navigate. Perhaps a more pertinent question arises: why hasn't the expansion within our ecosystem been tracked by scaling the rates of start-up and growth amongst our entrepreneurial community?
Our ambition to evolve has been clearly set out by the Scottish Government through its 2022 National Strategy for Economic Transformation and yet there remains a disconnect between aspiration and reality. Scotland has so much entrepreneurial potential but the challenge of unlocking it is one that continues to evade us.
With headquarters in Aberdeen, Elevator is Scotland’s leading private sector organisation that is dedicated to supporting the ecosystem. They champion the delivery of transformational impact and their mission has remained steadfast: to ignite, nurture and grow entrepreneurial spirit across Scotland.
Elevator believes that nurturing the ‘forest floor’ is crucial, the best way to have lots of growing companies is to firstly have lots of companies. Key to this, is creating opportunities for people who would not otherwise be considering starting up their own business…
The entrepreneurial landscape in Aberdeen
The entrepreneurial landscape in Aberdeen, at the heart of Scotland's thriving North East region, holds immense potential for aspiring innovators and business leaders.
While the region offers a robust platform for start-ups and SMEs to flourish, it is not without its challenges. The volatility of the energy sector, access to funding and talent retention can pose significant hurdles. However, these challenges are balanced by a range of opportunities.
Crucially, a supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem is fundamental to the success of ventures in Aberdeen and beyond. Collaborations between public institutions, private enterprises, and Elevator create an environment where start-ups and SMEs access mentorship, resources, and networking opportunities.
Elevator empowers entrepreneurs through a dynamic portfolio of programmes and initiatives. Those who go to them with aspirations and ambitions are met with invaluable resources, mentorship and supportive guidance to realise their visions of starting a successful venture.
(l-r Elevator programme and events operations manager Karen Clark, chief executive Gary McEwan and Aberdeen programme manager Sireen Adwan)
In partnership with Business Gateway, their free-to-attend annual Transform Business Festival is coming to the Aberdeen Science Centre on the 14th November (www.transformbusinessfestival) and serves as a catalyst for connections, knowledge-sharing and inspiration, creating a vibrant platform for entrepreneurial minds.
Elevator's commitment to thought leadership, educational resources and partnerships - such as their collaborations with Young Enterprise Scotland, the Universities of Aberdeen and Dundee, Scottish Edge and their own Elevator Foundation and Enterprise Challenge educational initiative - exemplifies their dedication to evolving entrepreneurial spirit.
Professor Gary McEwan, Elevator’s CEO commented “Here at Elevator, we play a pivotal role in nurturing and developing young entrepreneurs, a cornerstone of our commitment to fostering economic transformation in line with the Scottish Government's National Strategy. Engagement with the younger generation of business leaders is not only an investment in their futures but also a strategic imperative for Scotland's economic progress.”
As the entrepreneurial landscape evolves, young people bring fresh perspectives, innovative ideas and digital prowess that are crucial in driving economic transformation. Elevator provides tailored mentorship, training and networking opportunities through programmes such as their flagship Accelerator, which empower young innovators to turn ideas into sustainable businesses.
Each year, Elevator support more than 2,500 people in Scotland to realise their hopes of starting up their own business. Each journey will have been different. Among them are individuals like Chloe Oswald, a multi-award-winning chocolatier who decided from an early age that starting up her own enterprise would provide her with the chance to directly influence the trajectory of her life.
(Chloe Oswald, Founder Chocolatia)
Indeed, creating new opportunities for future generations needs to be an embedded part of Scotland’s culture for entrepreneurship. They first met Chloe though their Foundation, and then as a participant on their Elevator Challenge Weekend, an entrepreneurial bootcamp which has become a key step for many young people to gain the skills and knowledge needed not just to run a business, but to become an entrepreneur. More than 250 people have benefited from this fully funded experience to date.
Professor McEwan added “Discovering young talent like Chloe is one of the most satisfying parts of our work. At an economic level, it's an opportunity for us to nurture businesses that may not otherwise have been created and this has motivated the evolution of our community enterprise activities.
Having created over 50 new businesses, the success of the Fraserburgh Enterprise Hub has led us to explore further ways to deliver community enterprise support through our E3 model across Scotland. We matured our ability to create immediate impact and economic additionality and welcomed the independent evaluation. Notably, three-quarters of participants on the E3 Programme were not already engaging with mainstream Government support initiatives such as Business Gateway. We believe that this highlights an untapped economic opportunity for Scotland.”
Engagement and participation in entrepreneurial activities must start at an early age and must be delivered in a manner that develops an entrepreneurial mindset - our young people need to understand the opportunities that entrepreneurship brings! Success requires much more than simply providing the tools to start up and grow a successful business: it needs confidence building, inspiration and innovation from all contributors within this environment.
Elevator will play a lead role in establishing Scotland as an entrepreneurial nation - working closely with public and private sector partners who share their vision to establish a greater entrepreneurial culture. On the 7th November, Elevator will be announcing their latest partnership, set to make a substantial impact on the Aberdeen entrepreneurial ecosystem. Watch this space!
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(This article was published in part in the Aberdeen Press & Journal - click here to read it.)