£4m Unlocking Ambition Challenge programme launched for Scottish entrepreneurs


Applications are now open for a brand new cutting-edge entrepreneurial support scheme.
The £4m Unlocking Ambition Challenge is delivered by key stakeholders from Scotland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem as part of the Scotland CAN DO initiative, backed by the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) will lead the academic stream of the inaugural programme, with support from Scottish Enterprise, based on the highly successful Enterprise Fellowship Programme that the RSE has been running for 20 years.
Together they will invest in 20 early-stage high-potential entrepreneurs with innovative projects, with the aim of forming start-up businesses in Scotland in the new RSE Unlocking Ambition Enterprise Fellowship Programme.

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Up to 20 successful applicants will receive an RSE Unlocking Ambition Enterprise Fellowship operating over a period of a year with a host of bespoke benefits, including total grant funding of up to £900,000 (up to £45,000 grant per Fellow – £25,000 maintenance grant from Scottish Enterprise and up to £20,000 business development fund); a total of over £150,000 for a comprehensive and cutting-edge training programme personally tailored to develop business skills delivered to the highest of international standards; a dedicated mentor for each Fellow, and access to professional, financial and entrepreneurial networks.
This is an invitation to entrepreneurs from Scotland, the UK and from right across the world to submit ideas which have the potential to be transformative. You don’t have to be in Scotland or be Scottish – you can be anywhere in the world to apply. You are also not required to have an existing connection to the RSE. The only condition is that you agree to relocate or establish your business here in Scotland.
The RSE Unlocking Ambition Enterprise Fellowship Programme will nurture and support early-stage innovators, academics and researchers who have entrepreneurial potential and an innovative business idea. To succeed, we are looking for the most talented and ambitious people around the world to see Scotland as the place they want to establish their businesses.
Up to 20 talented entrepreneurs will be chosen, based on their own potential, the market potential of their business ideas, and the contribution that they might make to our economy and to wider society. They will be mentored and led by some of Scotland’s leading entrepreneurs in a year- long intensive entrepreneurial business development programme. The aim of the programme is to provide the framework within which individuals can experience the most relevant approach to develop the commercial strength of their ideas and be equipped to succeed in today’s fast-paced global business environment.
Business and Innovation Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “Unlocking Ambition is a fresh and innovative approach to maximising opportunities for the wealth of talent that exists in Scotland, or that could be attracted by the opportunities here.
“This programme is a high priority for the Scottish Government, because by tapping into the experience of Scotland’s most successful business people, as well as the great companies and institutions based here, we can unlock the tremendous potential of the next generation of entrepreneurs.”
“The Royal Society of Edinburgh is delighted to provide support to this worthwhile programme to unlock the ambition of talented entrepreneurs. Since its launch in 1997, the RSE Enterprise Fellowship scheme has supported more than 200 graduates and researchers to develop and launch new businesses. We look forward to supporting and working with this new cohort to help turn their energy and motivation, and of course their new ideas, into a reality.” Edward Cunningham CBE FRSE, Chairman, Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowship Programme.
The longer-term objective is to support Scotland in becoming a world-leading entrepreneurial nation and the programme will be delivered working alongside Scottish Government agencies, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish EDGE, Entrepreneurial Scotland and other partner organisations from the private sector, and third sector who will help support the successful candidates.

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