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The Entrepreneurial Exchange

Where Are All The Other Scots Entrepreneurs?

SCOTLAND has its business success stories - but it still lags behind other countries in entrepreneurship. There are established successes such as retail and property tycoon Sir Tom Hunter, Kwik-Fit founder Sir Tom Farmer, Direct Holidays mastermind John Boyle, transport entrepreneurs Brian Souter and Ann Gloag, motor car boss Arnold Clark and hotel boss Donald Macdonald among others.

Others may not be household names yet but are building success, such as nominees for the Entrepreneurial Exchange's entrepreneur of the year Michael Tracey of William Tracey Group, Amor Group's John Innes and Goals managing director Keith Rogers.

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Western Europe falls behind emerging economies and within that group Scotland is also far from the top.

But Professor Colin Mason of the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow says: "There are clusters of entrepreneurial activity in different parts of Scotland." He says the Highlands and Islands, Edinburgh and east of the Central Belt, and Grampian regions are the most entrepreneurial areas - but the west of Scotland drags down the country's entrepreneurial performance. Areas dominated by heavy industry and where there is a culture of being part of large organisations with no real role models, have lower levels of entrepreneurship.

Incomers are likely to be more entrepreneurial than those who are Scots born.

And it could mean much Scottish-born talent ends up moving away, though some successes return later.

He said the UK culture - not just in Scotland - of building people up and then knocking them down, might also play a part in Scotland's performance.

But recent research reveals that fast-growing firms could play a vital role in transforming the Scottish economy. Scottish Enterprise research found 825 high-growth firms in Scotland between April 2006 and April 2009, a figure broadly in line with other similar-sized economies.

Although they make up just 4 per cent of the business population in Scotland, the research highlights the disproportionate contribution they make to economic growth, collectively employing almost half a million people.

With these companies accounting for around half of all new private sector employment, Scottish Enterprise believes increasing the number of high growth firms could result in substantial numbers of jobs for Scotland.

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