A PROJECT which has helped almost 400 start-up firms has been hailed as “hugely impressive” by the First Minister.

The Techscaler programme has provided mentoring and advice to 387 fledgling technology businesses, with Humza Yousaf saying it had made Scotland “one of the most tech start-up friendly places in the world”.

The scheme, funded with £42 million of Scottish Government cash, already has six hubs around the country and plans to open its seventh base in Dumfries in 2023-24.

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Yousaf visited its Stirling site on Monday to hold discussions with entrepreneurs there and learn more about the companies working from the way.

The FM’s first Programme for Government, unveiled to Holyrood last week, including £15 million cash to help support entrepreneurs,and Yousaf stressed the importance of helping new businesses to boost Scotland’s economy.

He said: “Growing businesses are fundamental to a thriving Scotland and the Scottish Government I lead is committed to doing whatever we can to help businesses unleash the enormous economic potential of accelerating a fair, green and growing economy.

“That is why our Programme for Government is investing in the entrepreneurs of the future, building on the valuable work already taking place within Techscaler.”

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Yousaf (above) continued: “Tech start-ups right across Scotland now have access to world-class education and mentoring and opportunities for peer learning and networking through Techscaler – a hugely impressive programme which has made Scotland one of the most tech start-up-friendly places in the world.

“We are taking action now, in partnership with business, to help stimulate sustainable and fair economic growth across Scotland.”

Speaking to journalists at the facility in Stirling, the First Minister added: “It creates a supportive environment for our entrepreneurs, whether it's a hot desk they need or that peer-to-peer mentoring or space to grow their business, it's provided here at this fantastic facility.

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“I announced in the Programme for Government additional funding to invest in our entrepreneurs because we know if we grow the economy that helps us to tackle poverty.”

In his speech to Holyrood last week, the First Minister pledged to increase support for Scottish Edge and the Scottish Ecosystem Fund, and create a blueprint to make Scottish Colleges and Universities “stronger bases for entrepreneurs”.

And, he vowed to support more women in enterprise and ensure that funding was given to as many diverse projects as possible.