AN entrepreneur who has pioneered a ‘comedy and confidence’ course to help people with their social skills has won the first-ever Creative EDGE award.

Anna Devitt, who was expelled from three schools before becoming an award-winning comedian, was awarded £50,000 in the latest round of Scottish EDGE awards. The course she devised is already accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

The total amount awarded at RBS’s Gogarburn headquarters on Thursday night was £1.1m. There were 13 winners in all, chosen from 22 finalists, which had been narrowed down from 242 applicants from throughout the country.

Each finalist had three minutes to pitch their business plans to a panel of judges made up of Jo Bucci of People’s Postcode Lottery, Andy Lothian of Insights, Rob Jones of FanDuel, Petra Wetzel of West Brewery and Majella O’Boyle of Royal Bank of Scotland.

The Creative EDGE award is a special creative industries award introduced in this round. Presenting the award to Anne Devitt, Rachael Brown of Cultural Enterprise Office said: “At Cultural Enterprise Office we believe that Scotland can be the best place to create, scale and grow a creative career or business.

“Scotland is a vibrant and creative nation, we always have been. Together with our Creative EDGE partners, Creative Scotland and Scottish EDGE, we are proud and delighted to present the first ever Creative EDGE award to DirectDevitt, a business with a true blend of social purpose and creativity.”

Clive Gillman, director of creative industries at Creative Scotland, said: “This has been a really exciting process that has allowed us to see smart creative ideas to be turned into businesses that have the power to transform the lives of many people. I’ve been really pleased to have the opportunity to see first-hand the skills, ambitions and creative purpose embodied in everyone who has taken part. Huge congratulations to Anna and I’m sure that all of these businesses will be winners in their own fields, and we look forward to seeing them all thrive in the future.”

As the UK’s largest funding competition, Scottish EDGE is awarded as a 40 per cent grant and a 60 per cent, with a maximum award of up to £150,000. The loan is paid back to help fellow entrepreneurs on their pathway to success. It also provides mentoring, training and access to professional support.

Scottish EDGE chief executive Evelyn McDonald said: “The 22 businesses who pitched demonstrated a commitment and intense desire to grow their business and create jobs and wealth for Scotland and I believe many will achieve this.”

Sir Tom Hunter, long-term supporter of Scottish EDGE, said: “Through EDGE we’re seeing a renewed spirit of entrepreneurship developing in Scotland, heeding our nation’s proud tradition as innovators. This is not just about money however, all entrants, win or lose, receive support packages to help them on their way and come back again to EDGE when they are ready to do so.”

Gordon Merrylees, head of entrepreneurship for Royal Bank of Scotland said: “Congratulations to all of the winners for emerging victorious from such an impressive group of finalists. We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Scottish Government and the Hunter Foundation to continue to support entrepreneurial talent, develop Scottish EDGE and breathe life into entrepreneurship across Scotland. The 263 winners from rounds one to ten have, thus far, generated £79.78 million in turnover [and] secured £87.87 million in additional investment.” and created 1204 jobs. We’re delighted with this progress and look forward to continued success as today’s winners join our ever-growing group of high-achieving entrepreneurial alumni.”