Have you got the EDGE?

Over the last two years of Scottish EDGE, during which just over £4m has been awarded to Startup businesses throughout Scotland, I’m encouraged to note that almost £2m of that funding was awarded to female-led businesses. Whilst the application numbers from female businesses to the EDGE competition stands at an average of 30% per round, the amount being taken away by female businesses outperforms this at 34%.

Whilst there is a degree of reassurance in the knowledge that there is equality of opportunity for women coming into the competition and we’re proud of the amazing women we have supported, how do we ensure equality of access? Why are we still seeing significantly more men entering the competition than women?

Scotland’s women-led businesses collectively contribute an estimated £8.8bn GVA to the Scottish economy, but despite a rise in women’s enterprise in recent years, there is still a great deal of work to do if we are to achieve a true gender balance. Encouraging women business leaders to grow their businesses is both an economic and social imperative, and it will continue to be a key area of focus for all of us at EDGE as we develop the competition.

The most recent round of Scottish EDGE saw 67 female-led businesses apply (30% of total applications) with £395,000 of the prize-pot (32%) being handed out to female-led businesses. Two of those winners each walked away with the maximum award of £100,000.

Women’s Enterprise Scotland AmbassadorAmanda Pickford of ThermaFy was one of those £100,000 winners and here’s what she had to say about her Scottish EDGE journey:

“It means so much to me, not only winning the money but the fact that you all believe in the business enough to support it with the total amount you could award. The kudos and support that comes from winning, I know is really going to help the business grow.”

The good news is Scottish EDGE is now back for Round 16 and it’s bigger and better than ever. We launched on 21st January 2020 and we were delighted to add the exciting STV Growth EDGE award to the suite of existing awards, which include the core Scottish EDGE, Young EDGE and Wild Card EDGE categories, as well as the specialist category awards: Higgs EDGE, Creative EDGE, Social Enterprise EDGE (sponsored by Postcode Innovation Trust) and Circular Economy EDGE (sponsored by Zero Waste Scotland).

Key additions and changes for this round that I’d like to share include:

  • STV Growth EDGE: The new STV Growth EDGE Award, introduced in partnership with STV, offers support to a winning consumer-based product business. The award comes in the form of £75,000 worth of airtime and a launch commercial to help grow the businesses, and this in-kind award comes in addition to any monetary Scottish EDGE prize.

  • Move to a 70% loan / 30% grant split: As a strong purpose-led organisation, we have long had a desire to reduce the dependency on public sector funding. As such, for Round 16 of the competition, the split for all Scottish EDGE category awards will follow current market trends and be 70% Loan / 30% Grant. This change helps our drive towards self-sustainability and offers the winning businesses additional private-sector non-dilutive loan funding which can be utilised to grow their business and match-fund other grant schemes where appropriate. All Young EDGE and Wild Card EDGE awards will remain as Grant only awards.

  • Impact / Strategic Focus – We are aware that many businesses focus on key areas beyond sales turnover and profit so we’ve added an additional question to the online application form asking applicants to detail any “Social, Economic or Environmental impact your business delivers.” Whilst this question won’t directly impact on the EDGE assessment for this round (with the exception of Social Enterprise EDGE), we are keen to monitor where businesses are focused on key strategic areas such as; Fair Work, Workplace Diversity, Carbon Reduction, Rural Community, and etc.

  • Diversity on Assessment Panels – We have a strong aspiration to push for an equal gender balance across our independent assessment panels and following an average of 42% female assessor participation in previous rounds, our panels are on course to have a 50% male/50% female participation rate for the current round

Applications to Scottish EDGE Round 16 will be accepted through the competition online portal until 2pm on 27th Feb, requiring a completed application and a short video pitch. You can find out more and apply here.

Application and Video Presentation Support Workshops will be running for the next few weeks, you can find out more details below.

  • 30th Jan | 11.15am - EITHER - in An Lòchran, Inverness at Room 1.01 (to join in person please email: caroline.maclellan@hient.co.uk) OR register HERE to join the webinar: Webinar ID 451-445-011

  • 11th Feb | 10 am - Borders - Register HERE

  • 12th Feb | 10am - Edinburgh – Register HERE

  • 14th Feb | 10am - Glasgow – Register HERE

  • 17th Feb | 10am - Aberdeen – Register HERE

  • 24th Feb | 12.30pm Dundee – Register HERE

  • Social Enterprise Workshop - TBC

Evelyn McDonald is the CEO of Scottish EDGE

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