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Strategic review of the Scottish EDGE


This report presents the findings of a strategic review of the Scottish EDGE (Encouraging Dynamic Growth Entrepreneurs) programme, undertaken during April and May 2014 for Scottish Enterprise (SE). The Scottish EDGE is a Dragon’s Den type competition for entrepreneurs who wish to grow their businesses. It is delivered by SE and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) on behalf of the Scottish Government and in partnership with Entrepreneurial Spark (Espark), The Royal Bank of Scotland and Business Gateway. The review aimed to explore: the reasons for seeking the award; business growth barriers/market failures faced by applicants; what other attempts were made to raise finance; the application process and programme management; associated benefits from both receiving the award and to non-successful applicants; appropriateness of current monitoring and evaluation arrangements; and appropriateness of current measures and targets.


The methodology aimed to gather feedback from all applicants – those who had submitted successful applications and those who were unsuccessful. Interviews were undertaken with 26 successful applicants (out of a total of 54 across rounds 1-3 which equates to a 48% sample) and an on-line survey was issued to 510 unsuccessful applicants of whom 134 responded (equating to a 26% response rate for the on-line survey).


To date, the Scottish EDGE has awarded almost £1.9 million to 54 firms. In terms of outputs, the Programme appears to have performed comparatively well by exceeding targets associated with advice and finance, but with less positive brand awareness than originally anticipated. With 200+ applications expected actual engagement was 720; an initial target of 20-40 businesses to be supported over two years resulted in support to 54 businesses; and monitoring information from the first two cohorts indicates that the businesses have created 79 new jobs, generated new turnover of £1.8m, and attracted new external finance of £1.6m. Financial support and business growth support were key factors in applying, for both successful and unsuccessful applicants. The main barriers cited by successful applicants were around knowledge on how to grow the business and how to raise finance. Feedback indicated that the application process was relatively straightforward and programme management and organisation was considered to be very good by successful applicants. Respondents constantly cited the good communication on the process and accessibility of SE staff. However, some of those who were unsuccessful were less positive. The key areas where the process was felt to have helped included: increased belief in their business proposition; improved communication; overcoming fear of public speaking; and developing a sharpened pitch that convinced subsequent investors to make an investment. The majority of successful cases commented on the lack of feedback from the EDGE panel and this was a significant area of dissatisfaction for those who were unsuccessful. All would welcome more, although they acknowledged that this was a challenge for SE/HIE due to limited resources.


The report recommends that Scottish EDGE should continue, maintaining its competitive and highly selective characteristics. It was also suggested perceived advantages gained by applicants receiving support from Espark should be addressed.

Author O’Herlihy & Co Ltd
Published Year 2015
Report Type Evaluation
  • Enterprise
    High growth entrepreneurship, Support to existing/growth businesses