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Best of Young Enterprise Scotland – Round Two

Scot-Buzz editor Bill Jamieson looks forward to tomorrow's  Red Letter Day for 217 young Scots entrepreneurs pitching for a slice of a £2 million fund to support and encourage entrepreneurial activity in Scotland.

The final pitching session takes place on Wednesday (June 19) for Round Two of the Scottish EDGE, being held in The Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters in Gogarburn.

The scheme has been developed by Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Business Gateway, The Royal Bank of Scotland and Entrepreneurial Spark.

The first round saw £540,000 being awarded to 17 young companies. The second round has drawn 217 applications. These are being whittled down to between 25 and 30 businesses pitching their ideas to a panel of senior business leaders and hoping to secure up to a collective £750,000 of support.

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting 10 of the 17 first round award winners at a special Edge dinner organised by RBS in Edinburgh’s St Andrew Square and attended by senior political figures and bank executives. Listening to their stories round the table, it was one of the most inspiring meetings I have attended in years.

Young entrepreneurs spoke of their ventures. These ranged from Donna Read, founder of Ayrshire shoe chain Shooze with Sole Scott Goodwin who founded Hotbott and built it from a simple seat-heating accessory for football and rugby fans into a clothing range selling world-wide; Geraldine who built up Tummy With Mummy, the world’s first foldaway baby & toddler seat with built-in angled tummy time platform, and Donnie, founder and chief executive of Eat Balanced which makes an award-winning range of nutritionally balanced pizzas.

Donna, pictured here with Cabinet Secretary John Swinney, was awarded a £35,000 grant as a finalist. What made her story outstanding was the way it brought some heartening news from a retail sector shrouded in doom and gloom. 

Shooze With Sole began in March last year and now has stores in Ayr, Kilmarnock and Troon. The company employs 13 staff, two of them who were previously unemployed. They were recruited through the local council modern apprentice scheme.  Her company works with the biggest names in adult and children's footwear and the £35,000 award will go towards opening a store outlet in Irvine.  Donna says “winning the Scottish Edge Fund award is a massive personal and business achievement, especially coming from the retail sector where we are very often overlooked”.

Galloway farmer Alistair Taylor also had a compelling story to tell. His entrepreneurial journey began two years ago when he dropped a tin of paint from his ladder while painting his farmhouse. He searched round the yard for something to attach the pot to the ladder.

Like so many gadgets and devices, the incident led him to an invention so devilishly simple we wonder why we didn’t think of it ourselves. He came up with a tapered tubular device - about an inch in diameter - with a karabiner hook on one end. He attached the tube to the ladder and clipped the paint pot safely to the karabiner. He patented the idea, got it properly designed and raised funding to have it manufactured commercially. The business, based in Newton Stewart, has taken off.  Since launching his gadget – LadderLimb - it has been taken the trade and DIY market by storm.  It won DIY Week's "Hand Tool of the Year" Award 2012, projecting the product into wide public attention. His business won £25,000 of funding in the April round of the Edge awards.

Hear the pitches…

The Final tomorrow will have pitches running from 9am until 6pm in the Auditorium of the RBS conference Centre in Gogarburn with each pitch lasting 3 minutes followed by questions from the judges. There will be breaks throughout the day and a small lunch will be provided.

If you would like to hear the pitches and the Q&A which follows, then please register to attend on the eventbrite booking site which can found at 

And show your support…

Attendance on the day will show your support to Scottish entrepreneurs and allow you to see the calibre of entrepreneurship in Scotland. You may be considering applying for the next round of the Scottish EDGE or be an investor who is looking for a young business to invest in. There are many reasons to attend, but only one opportunity, so make sure you don’t miss out.

Awards will be made on the evening of 19 June at the same venue and you can also indicate whether you wish to remain to find out which of the applicants are successful in securing much needed funding to grow their business.

A light buffet/drinks will be available from 6pm, followed by the Awards, which will be presented by John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth.

With the potential to win up to £50,000 plus a package of support from The Royal Bank of Scotland, this competition is ideal for innovative new companies making their mark on the Scottish economy. It is open to small, young Scottish businesses which, with support, have the potential to achieve or increase sales by £400,000 within a period of three years (or £200,000 in the Highlands and Islands region).