By Karen Peattie

SCOTLAND’S high-profile funding competition aimed at identifying and supporting Scotland’s entrepreneurial talent is back for its 20th round of funding in the last eight years.

Expanding on last year’s Scottish EDGE awards, which saw 40 early-stage businesses receive a total of £1.65 million, the competition’s Young EDGE category, which recognises entrepreneurs aged 30 and under, and Wild Card EDGE, which caters for pre-trading companies, sole-traders and partnerships, will each see the top prize funding pot increase from £15,000 to £20,000.

As a result of further investment from Scottish Enterprise the number of winners in the Young EDGE Category will again double to 14.

The Scottish EDGE Awards have invested £20m into over 500 businesses with entrepreneurial potential and the 20th round will include an additional prize for a top award winner in the main Scottish EDGE category – a day with Sir Tom Hunter’s investment arm West Coast Capital and lunch with Sir Tom, courtesy of The Hunter Foundation.

In recognition of the greater challenges often faced by social enterprises to repay loans, this round will see a reverse in the grant-to-loan ratio of the social enterprise category, which will now be a 70 per cent grant and 30% loan.

Royal Bank of Scotland continues its support of Scottish EDGE following the successful debut last year of the net-zero award, which acknowledges the efforts of companies prioritising sustainability and Scotland’s commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2045.

In addition, the circular economy award recognises firms demonstrating sustainable practices while the STV-supported growth award offers funding support, airtime and a launch commercial to one consumer-based product business.

Evelyn McDonald, the chief executive of Scottish EDGE, said: “We always like to offer something extra if we can and we hope the increase to our top prize in the Young EDGE and Wild Card EDGE categories, the change to the loan-to-grant ratio for our social enterprise entrants, and the opportunity to chat over lunch with one of our biggest supporters, Sir Tom Hunter, will appeal to what we’re sure will be an exciting group of entrants to round 20.”

Applications for the 20th round close on August 23.