Record applications for Scottish EDGE reveal ‘entrepreneurial leap’ being taken during Covid

Applications to Scottish EDGE’s latest funding round are up by 24%, with the record 305 applications for the 17th round of EDGE in May indicating a high level of business activity on Scotland’s startup scene.

Record applications for Scottish EDGE reveal 'entrepreneurial leap' being taken during Covid

Hannah Fisher of Start-up Drinks Lab, Arti Poddar and Usman Mohammed of Guy & Beard, Evelyn McDonald of Scottish EDGE, and Scott McCulloch of TheVeganKind (Photo: Stewart Attwood)

Scottish EDGE is the UK’s biggest business funding competition. Since being launched in 2013, Scottish EDGE has awarded over £16 million in grants and loans while supporting over 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.

Female co-founders also represented 57% of applications for the current round.

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.”

Companies who have won grants and loans in previous EDGE rounds include Ooni Pizza Ovens, patient monitoring specialist Current Health, compliance software developer Amiqus, cash flow forecasting tool Float, Guy & Beard, who have repurposed shipping containers as barber shops in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and Start-up Drinks Lab who are helping drink brands innovate from development to branding or “concept to shelf” in the words of the founding team, and TheVeganKind who operate the UK’s largest plant-based online supermarket, featuring over 6,000 vegan products from across the globe.

Scott McCulloch, CEO and co-founder of TheVeganKind, added: “As the world transitions and adapts to climate change warnings, more and more people are seeking to reduce their carbon footprint. Our own business grew by around 125 per cent during 2020, on the back of record orders and half a million monthly visits to our website. When we won Scottish EDGE, we were just getting started and there is no doubt the money we won was the catalyst for greater things.”

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 a gross value added (GVA) of £67.9 million. The funding competition also 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 also suggested a strong survival rate for EDGE-winning businesses, with 100 per cent still trading one year after an EDGE win, 85 per cent after three years and 77 per cent after 5 years. In eight years of operation and over £16m in grants and loans having been awarded, the report found that there had only been a 6.2 per cent 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.”

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