Accelerating the growth of highly ambitious companies

2018 - 2019

The prestigious Unlocking Ambition Challenge is a £4 million flagship entrepreneurial development fund created by the Scottish Government, initiated by the First Minister for Scotland, that supports highly ambitious entrepreneurs from across Scotland, chosen for their individual potential, the quality of their ideas and the contribution they can make to the Scottish economy and wider society.

Entrepreneurs selected to be a part of the Unlocking Ambition cohort receive support from the Royal Society of Edinburgh or Scottish Enterprise, are matched to a world-class business mentor via Entrepreneurial Scotland and gain access to the GlobalScot network and the Scottish Investment Bank. They also benefit from significant grant funding investment and a dedicated account team of specialists to support their business development.

Unlocking Ambition is the Scotland CANDO partnership at its best, working together to bring intensive wrap-around support with a celebration of our most promising entrepreneurs. The Programme amplifies the success of entrepreneurs who can demonstrate their ideas can be successful, inclusive, create jobs and benefit society.

Scottish Enterprise
Unlocking Ambition Programme

• Helping established entrepreneurs accelerate the growth of a purpose-driven businesses

RSE Unlocking Ambition
Enterprise Fellowship Programme

• Supporting early stage and academic entrepreneurs develop their innovative business start-up idea

Follow their progress at…


2 days ago
Thank you @LINIANFireClip for having us also. We enjoyed learning about your company and product. #unlockingambition @Unlock_Ambition
2 days ago
British start-up breeds high performance bugs for animal feed. Thomas Farrugia, CEO & Founder of Beta Bugs and current @news_RSE Unlocking Ambition Enterprise Fellow is making the headlines 🐛🔬 #EnterpriseFellow #UnlockingAmbition @Unlock_Ambition
2 days ago
British start-up breeds high performance bugs for animal feed. Thomas Farrugia, CEO & Founder of Beta Bugs and current @news_RSE Unlocking Ambition Enterprise Fellow is making the headlines 🐛🔬 #EnterpriseFellow #UnlockingAmbition @Unlock_Ambition

Backed by Scotland’s First Minister, Unlocking Ambition is a £4m challenge fund created by the Scottish Government as part of the Programme for Government ‘A Nation with Ambition’ and delivered by Scottish entrepreneurial ecosystem partners.

Unlocking Ambition supports a cohort of 40 highly ambitious entrepreneurs based on their individual entrepreneurial potential, the quality and innovation of their business and the contribution they can make to an inclusive, Scottish economy.

The cohort of 40 Unlocking Ambition purpose-driven entrepreneurs receive 12-months of support via participation in one of two Unlocking Ambition Programmes running concurrently.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) is working with 20 early-stage entrepreneurs, each hosted by a Scottish University or research institute through a new Enterprise Fellowship programme.

Scottish Enterprise (SE) is supporting 20 established entrepreneurs to help them accelerate the growth of their business and develop their personal potential as the leader of a scalable business.

Each RSE Enterprise Fellow will receive a comprehensive and cutting-edge business training programme personally tailored to develop business skills, a dedicated mentor who will support each throughout the programme from one or more of the stakeholder organisations, and access to professional, financial and entrepreneurial networks. The Enterprise Fellowship provides invaluable time to dedicate and focus on the start-up as well as hosting status by a Scottish University or Research Institute for one year. In addition, each RSE Unlocking Ambition Enterprise Fellow receives a £25,000-£50,000 maintenance grant plus a further £20,000 business development fund to enable them to work fulltime on developing their business idea and establishing their start-up over the course of the year.

Entrepreneurs on the SE programme will receive intensive wrap-around support from a dedicated Programme Account team of business development and technical specialists, access to a Financial Readiness expert, SE’s international market research unit and a fast-track into SE/SDI account management products and services. In addition, each entrepreneur on the SE programme receives a £25,000 grant award at the outset of the programme with the opportunity to apply for further grant funding of up to £50,000 throughout the year in addition to access to SE/SDI’s products and services for Account Managed companies. The total package of support is worth over £100,000 per entrepreneur.

In addition to the direct support provided by their Programme delivery organisation, the Unlocking Ambition cohort receives i) free Membership of Entrepreneurial Scotland, ii) free Membership of Scotland House in London, iii) exclusive access to high profile entrepreneur exemplars at Round Table meetings, iv) at least one international visit to build international connections and v) access to a series of 4 world-class Purpose-Driven Enterprise masterclasses.

Those businesses showing the most progress over the 12-months will be invited to continue into a 2nd year of support.

The Unlocking Ambition programme aims to increase the number of sustainable purpose-driven scale-ups in Scotland by addressing key barriers to scale, maximising the value the Scottish ecosystem has to offer and driving a culture of inclusivity, impact delivery and social responsibility.

Unlocking Ambition is supported by a number of partners from the Scottish Entrepreneurial Support Ecosystem and Can Do Forum including:

“We want to ensure the most talented entrepreneurs, from Scotland and elsewhere, have the best opportunities to develop their ideas here, bring them to market and create the successful new companies we need for our economy to continue to grow.”

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon

“The Unlocking Ambition Challenge offers innovative entrepreneurs everything they need to take their business to the next level – time, money and amazing support from world-class organisations. It’s an extraordinary opportunity that will unearth the game-changers of the future and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

James Watt, BrewDog co-founder

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