THE 40 Scottish businesses taking part in First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s flagship entrepreneurial development programme have raised £6.5 million in total, mostly external funding, since the Unlocking Ambition scheme was launched in July 2018.

And more than 50 jobs have been created to date across the businesses, with further recruitment in the pipeline, those behind the scheme announced yesterday.

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The two-year, £4 million Unlocking Ambition programme is delivered by economic development agency Scottish Enterprise and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. It is aimed at supporting entrepreneurs “with the talent, mindset and potential to scale their business”, while adding value to the Scottish economy.

Social impact is a key aspect among businesses in the programme, those behind the scheme noted, with entrepreneurs engaged in ending period poverty, delivering access to clean water around the world, and safeguarding people working on commercial vessels at sea.

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Ms Sturgeon said the programme was “already making a significant contribution to Scotland’s economy and wider society”.

She added: “The cohort’s achievements in the past year...demonstrate the talent and enthusiasm of these entrepreneurs. The social missions which drive many of these businesses forward continue to benefit communities in Scotland and beyond.”

A total of 59 growth projects have been delivered and 19 new products or services developed by the 20 members of the Scottish Enterprise cohort within the programme.

Celia Hodson’s Hey Girls social enterprise, which aims to end period poverty, has collected various awards. Among other businesses in the programme is Glasgow-based Phox Water, which has in a bid to reduce single-use plastics developed a sustainable water filter, with a refillable cartridge, to deliver an antioxidant-rich alkaline water, Funding secured through the scheme has enabled Phox to have the product manufactured fully in Scotland.