Business development · 19 November 2015

Entrepreneurial Spark launches Scalerator to find Scotland’s next unicorn

Of the 13 new European unicorns in the past year, seven came from the UK
Of the 13 new European unicorns in the past year, seven came from the UK

Business accelerator Entrepreneurial Spark has launched Scalerator, as a means to helping promising Scottish startups have better support when trying to scale up.

The programme, which will be open to firms from any sector, is focused on increasing the number of unicorns – businesses that have reached a value of at least $1bn through fundraising – in Scotland.

Entrepreneurial Spark said that while there has been a growing number of entrepreneurs in Scotland, many lack the skills and experience needed to scale to £10m and beyond, stagnating without assistance.

Its ten-week initiative will begin in Autumn 2016 and look to support entrepreneurs, developing a scaling mindset and helping them put together strategy and deliver it.

To be eligible for Scalerator, a firm’s current annual revenues need to be at least £1m and have been achieved within three years of commencement of trading, not incorporation and/or have generated £500,000 of finance.

Candidates with potential will be identified through a formal process to include evaluation of growth plan, pitch and a mindset interview. Ten firms per region will take part in the programmes – with three running each year.

Entrepreneurial Spark CEO, Jim Duffy, said: “Having successfully launched and grown a new business, the danger is that businesses fail to reach their true potential when the leader reaches their competency threshold.”

He added that this competency threshold can be extended “with the right development and enablement”.


“Most accelerators and business support agencies focus on startup. Support for businesses in the growth stage tends to focus on specifics such as marketing, export and business development for example,” Duffy added. “There is little outside of formal executive education programmes that address leadership in the context of the market in which businesses are operating.”

Of the 13 new European unicorns in the past year, seven came from the UK, with the majority consumer-orientated. Europe’s unicorns have a combined value of $120bn. The Scalerator programme hopes to improve these figures, as well as boosting the profile of Scottish firms within the UK economy and outside of it.

Earlier this month, the Scottish government’s chief statistician revealed that the number of businesses operating in Scotland had reached a record high, with 361,345 private sector firms operating in March 2015. The biggest rise was among small traders.

The total number of Scottish businesses increased by more than 50 per cent in the 15 year period since the numbers had started being gathered, rising by 121,375 firms and an eight per cent rise on the 2014 numbers.

Image: Shutterstock

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Rebecca is a reporter for Business Advice. Prior to this, she worked with a range of tech, advertising, media and digital clients at Propeller PR and did freelance work for The Telegraph.

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