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The Entrepreneurial Exchange

Entrepreneurial Guru Says Scottish Enterprise Uncertainty 'A Threat'

JOHN Anderson, the chief executive of The Entrepreneurial Exchange, has warned that uncertainty over the future of Scottish Enterprise is threatening the organisation's progress in creating emerging and new high-growth companies.

"We need to be focused on growing companies of scale in the £100 million plus range. We need to look at where the growth is and what's stopping people from growing their businesses. It is as simple as that and Scottish Enterprise is working on these issues," said Anderson. However, he added that, since the arrival of the SNP-led administration, there has been silence on the progress of its work with Scottish Enterprise, if indeed there is a future relationship to be had.

Anderson's appeal for clarity comes at a time of change at the Exchange. One of Scotland's best known specialists in entrepreneurship, and a qualified chartered accountant, he was instrumental in setting up the Scottish Enterprise "Local Heroes" project, based in part on his own MBA thesis Local Heroes - Scotland's Entrepreneurial Role Models.

Recently, Anderson says he has changed the profile of the organisation, which many believed was only welcoming to high net worth and profile individuals such as Sir Tom Farmer and Sir Tom Hunter.

Established in 1994 with 50 founder members, the Exchange now has over 400 members heading up companies employing more than 217,000 people and with a collective turnover of over £16.6 billion. Anderson added: "We are a highly effective network. We have a fantastic top tier and we will use these guys selectively. We don't want to lose the big guns - but they have other pressures on their time.

"We are finding our focus dinners, all confidential with a maximum of 15, are proving really beneficial to entrepreneurs. Here they can discuss their tensions and hear from others who have been through the same situation. If anyone is serious about growing a business of scale, then the Exchange can help."

His board now includes Norma Corlette of the Learning Game, Dr Iain Graham from Graham Technology and Peter Grant from Grant Management.

"We have a good balance on the board and you could argue there are no big names, but we have the support of the top-tier entrepreneurs. For us and them it is about a new concept of venture philanthropy, where we work hard, play hard and give something back. Many give up their time to speak and share experiences, where time is more important than cash."

SHARON WARD

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