The ceremony, at Airth Castle near Stirling, crowned the end of an intensive year-long international programme, devised to give them the skills and entrepreneurial drive to transform Scottish companies into major global businesses.

Each fellow attended a 16-week course at Babson College in Boston, the world’s top-ranked business school for entrepreneurship, before undertaking placements with large blue-chip organisations overseas and small high-growth entrepreneurial ventures in Scotland. The companies hosting the fellows included Sun Microsystems in California, Monsanto in St Louis, Liberty Mutual in Boston and Scots firms Touch Bionics, Axis Shield.

The group graduated in a ceremony attended by the Saltire Foundation chairman, Peter Lederer, and Scottish Enterprise chairman, Crawford Gillies.

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Many of the fellows had left jobs to take part in the programme – now 10 have already secured positions with some of Scotland’s most ambitious growing companies.

The Saltire Fellowship was developed by the Saltire Foundation, which was set up with support from Scottish Enterprise and the influential GlobalScot network. It aims to identify individuals who can make a difference to Scotland’s economic future and give them opportunities to work with some of the world’s key business players.

Many of the companies involved are associated with the GlobalScot network and help expand Scotland’s business success by passing on its members’ skills and expertise to Scotland’s next generation of business leaders.

James Murray, 30, who was a project manager at consultancy Mott MacDonald before taking part in the fellowship programme, spent three months working with Veolia Energy North America in Boston before returning to Scotland to apply his knowledge to Edinburgh’s NGenTec, which has developed novel generator technology for green energy.

He said: “The experience and knowledge gained from attending one of the world’s leading business schools and from working in an internationally recognised blue-chip company really is second to none.

“This really gave me the confidence to make an impact with NGenTec, a very early-stage company.”

The Saltire Foundation is an independent charitable organisation set up with support from Scottish Enterprise to create “a pipeline of confident, entrepreneurial, driven executives, ready to enhance Scotland’s commercial performance.”

James Murray