THE 40 businesses participating in the First Minister’s flagship entrepreneurial development programme Unlocking Ambition has raised a total of £6.5 million since its launch, new figures have revealed – with the majority gained from external funding.

Launched in July 2018, the £4m Unlocking Ambition two-year programme is delivered by Scottish Enterprise (SE) and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and supports entrepreneurs with the talent, mindset and potential to scale their business, while at the same time, adding significant value to the Scottish economy.

Social impact plays a significant role in the businesses, from ending period poverty and delivering access to clean water for all around the world, to safeguarding the lives and security of those working on commercial vessels at sea.

In addition, more than 50 jobs have been created to date across the businesses, with more in the pipeline. The funding and job creation has enabled the entrepreneurs to focus on building their business and accelerate the development of new products or services. To date, a total of 59 new growth projects have been delivered and 19 new products or services have been developed by the 20 members of the SE cohort

In a bid to reduce single use plastics, Glasgow-based Phox Water developed a highly sustainable water filter which is leading the way with reusable cartridges. Unlocking Ambition funding has enabled Phox to have the product manufactured in Scotland. Ayrshire-based property management company Pillow has appointed a sales manager to free up owner Scott Weir to explore opportunities with the American market.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The Unlocking Ambition programme is already making a significant contribution to Scotland’s economy and wider society. The cohort’s achievements in the past year in attracting funding, creating jobs and delivering pioneering new products and services demonstrate the talent and enthusiasm of these entrepreneurs.”

The entrepreneurs have also received a number of awards, with Celia Hodson of Hey Girls picking up the prestigious accolade of Great British Entrepreneur of the Year, following fellow Unlocking Ambition ambassador Alan Mahon of Brewgooder who won it last year. Alan was invited earlier this year by President Barack Obama to his town hall meeting and Celia addressed a House of Commons event on ending period poverty.

STV Summit Social Entrepreneur of the Year also went to Celia Hodson; Institute of Directors Start Up Director of the Year to John Robertson of Drinkly; Ayrshire Business of the Year to Pillow, and Best Food and Drink Start Up at the Made in Scotland Awards to Start-up Drinks Lab.