Grant and investment funding of almost £25 million has been committed to 90 young Scottish firms in a bid to ensure the coronavirus pandemic does not wipe out an entire generation of up-and-coming businesses. 

The awards have been made via the Early Stage Growth Challenge Fund, part of a £38m package of early-stage support announced by the Scottish Government in July. Managed by Scottish Enterprise, the fund was established to help the country’s most promising emerging businesses continue to innovate through the economic crisis. 

Administered on a competitive basis, successful applicants have received a convertible loan note along with a grant worth up to 20 per cent of the total award. Among the various winners was Edinburgh-based Vistalworks, which makes consumer protection software.

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“We’re incredibly grateful to the Scottish Investment Bank and the Scottish Government for their Early Stage Growth Challenge fund investment,” chief executive Vicky Brock said.  

“This has been transformational at a point when the business was ready for acceleration. We’re already executing our plans and have taken on four new employees as a direct result, with more to follow.” 

Linda Hanna, interim chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, added: “There was concern among Scotland’s early-stage ecosystem that the coronavirus pandemic would cause investment levels to reduce dramatically, potentially wiping out a generation of Scotland’s up-and-coming businesses.

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“The creation of the early-stage support package, developed by Scottish Enterprise on behalf of the Scottish Government, has proved to be an important intervention. Through the Early Stage Growth Challenge fun, we’ve been able to provide several of Scotland’s most pioneering young companies with the financial support necessary to overcome obstacles to growth created by Covid-19.” 

In addition to money provided through the fund, the programme also included £3m for pre-seed start-up companies and spin-out projects, plus £10m for Scottish Enterprise’s existing co-investment funds.