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New funding support

Grants on offer to help tech startups prosper

Steve Dunlop

Steve Dunlop: working at pace (pic: Terry Murden)

New grants are being offered to high growth start-up companies and university spinout projects as part of the Scottish government’s push on innovation to help economic recovery.

Part of a £3 million package of support, the funding provides grants of up to £50,000 for 41 start-ups and up to £130,000 for 16 spinouts. It also includes bespoke support to help the businesses develop.

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Start-up and spinout companies, many of which are in the technology, digital and low carbon sectors, are the future of our economy.

“They are driven by the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation. Crucially, they are the kind of enterprises that create high-quality jobs, and which attract investment into Scotland – both of which will be vital to successfully rebuilding the economy after the damage caused by COVID-19.

“By supporting start-up companies and spinout projects through this funding we can not only help them survive, but give them the potential to prosper. This is a key part of our long-term mission to create new jobs, good jobs and green jobs.”

Fiona Hyslop

Fiona Hyslop: long term mission

The University of Edinburgh’s innovative Exergy3 spinout project is one of the first to be awarded funding.

It aims to provide power storage using electric-to-electric thermal energy story technology, has the potential to convert existing fossil fuel burning power plants to zero carbon energy storage systems. 

The pandemic meant that work on Exergy3’s small-scale prototype ground to a halt, however, with the additional support from the Scottish Government, the team is now able to progress and take the technology a step closer to commercial use.

Dr Adam Robinson, lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Edinburgh, said: “This funding will springboard us to the next stages of our project where Exergy3 can be central to Scotland’s low carbon transition. 

“We can now complete and test our small-scale prototype, build a consortium to demonstrate our technology on a working power plant, as well as demonstrate the commercial case for our technology.

“Energy3 has global export and investment potential and could provide high quality sustainable jobs of the future.”

Steve Dunlop, CEO of Scottish Enterprise said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had far-reaching impacts on all aspects of our business base including our high growth early stage businesses and university spinouts. 

“It’s vital we continue to support these ventures so that those with the very best growth potential can flourish into significant businesses of the future.

“We’re pleased to have been able to work at pace with our partners to identify these projects and to get the funding to them in such a short space of time. 

“We will continue to work closely with the companies and spinout teams to provide a range of support that will help them further develop and attract new future investment.”


The funding forms the first part of the £38 million funding for early stage, high growth potential companies announced in July and managed by Scottish Enterprise, consisting of:

* the £25 million Early Stage Growth Challenge Fund to provide a mix of grant and investment funding up to a maximum of £300,000. This will help equity-backed businesses (and those on the trajectory to raise equity) to continue innovating through the pandemic and bridge the gap to the next investment round

* an additional £10 million for Scottish Enterprise’s existing Scottish Investment Bank co-investment funds to help stimulate private investment and support businesses that need more significant levels of funding to grow

Food sector support

Industry group Scotland Food & Drink has created a £250,000 fund to support regional food groups and create an active network of regional ambassadors to help the sector recover.

Lucy Husband, director of market & business development, said: “Community revival and shopping locally to support food and drink businesses on our doorstep will be an essential ingredient in the sector’s recovery from the Coronavirus impacts. 

“Regional food groups have a pivotal role to play in the successful growth and development of our country’s food, drink and food tourism sectors, especially in the recovery from Covid-19.”

The 14 regional food groups being supported by the new funding are:

  • Appetite for Angus
  • Arran’s Food Journey
  • Ayrshire Food Network
  • Bute Kitchen
  • Discover Inverclyde’s Food and Drink
  • Eat Drink Hebrides
  • East Lothian Food & Drink
  • Food from Argyll
  • Food from Fife
  • Forth Valley Food & Drink Network
  • North East Scotland Food & Drink Network
  • Orkney Food & Drink
  • Perth & Kinross Food Tourism Group
  • Shetland Food & Drink

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