Firms tackling Covid issues add to rise in Edge entries
Evelyn McDonald: innovation born amidst crisis
Companies addressing issues thrown up by the pandemic are among a rising number of applications to the latest Scottish Edge funding round for startups.
Applications are up by 24% to a record 305, driven in part by individuals starting their own ventures in response to the pressure on jobs and the Covid crisis.
Female co-founders represent 57% of applications which may add to growing evidence that women are being impacted more by the pandemic and are choosing to start their own enterprises.
Evelyn McDonald, CEO, Scottish EDGE said: “We’re encouraged to see so many applications, particularly after such a challenging time for the business ecosystem in Scotland.
“With almost half of this round’s applications coming from pre-trading business, we’re seeing that familiar trend of innovation born amidst crisis.
“Job losses and lack of employment have encouraged many to make the entrepreneurial leap, including a disproportionate amount of women, and what we’re also seeing across the applications are companies positioned to address many of the issues that have been thrown up by the pandemic.”
Since being launched in 2013, Scottish EDGE has awarded more than £16 million in grants and loans to more than 420 companies.
The social enterprise is supported by the Hunter Foundation, Royal Bank of Scotland, the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise. In addition to direct cash funding, EDGE winners also benefit from training and support from a number of partner organisations.
This round’s application drive came after a Sir Tom Hunter-funded independent analysis of Scottish EDGE’s past winners by economic research group Ekos found that EDGE-supported businesses have helped generate more than 850 jobs and gross value added (GVA) of £67.9 million.
The funding competition generates a return for the public sector of £7.30 to £8.50 in net additional GVA for every £1 of public sector investment.
The report suggested a strong survival rate for EDGE-winning businesses, with 100% still trading one year after an EDGE win, 85% after three years and 77% after five years. In eight years of operation and over £16m in grants and loans having been awarded, the report found that there had been only a 6.2% default rate.
Sir Tom Hunter said: “Early stage, high growth businesses will play a vital role in rebuilding our economy and driving employment opportunities.
“The businesses that come through EDGE grow faster with less risk because EDGE is not just about money, but the embedded support on offer and I’m delighted the findings of the Ekos report reflect this.
“Scotland’s economic recovery will be entrepreneur led and SMEs are fundamental to our chances of succeeding. As such I think business and Government must come together to extend and accelerate support for them through the likes of Scottish EDGE.”