A Scottish oat milk producer has secured UK-wide distribution after embarking on a major expansion enabled by success in the Scottish EDGE funding competition.

East Lothian-based Brose Oats has started a contract with The Cress Company. This will make the oat milk firm’s products available in specialist retailers, including farm shops and delicatessens, throughout the UK.

Josh Barton, chief executive and founder of Brose Oats, won the inaugural food and drink category at Scottish EDGE last November.

As well as taking the £100,000 top prize, the entrepreneur also received a package of advisory services including support from competition sponsor and accountancy firm Johnston Carmichael.

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The Scottish Edge programme is funded by the Hunter Foundation, Royal Bank of Scotland, the Scottish Government, economic development agency Scottish Enterprise and private donors.

Speaking ahead of round 23 of Scottish EDGE, which takes place this month and marks the 10th anniversary of the awards, Mr Barton said: “We had been trying to get investment for our current scale-up for three years prior to Scottish EDGE, but the only interest was from people who wanted to acquire us.

"Winning the top prize allowed us to access asset finance funding and opportunities that we wouldn’t have had. Even if there had been interest from retailers and wholesalers, we wouldn’t have had the production in place to deliver.”

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Adam Hardie, business development partner and head of food and drink at Johnston Carmichael, said: “Since it was founded in 2014, Scottish EDGE has been a great facilitator of entrepreneurial young businesses. Brose Oats has a brilliant product, and Josh is a fantastic entrepreneur, but having a more commercial focus has changed his outlook as much as winning prize money has.”

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In addition to securing UK-wide retail distribution, Brose Oats is building its foodservice network, supplying to Lomond Foods and winning listings with the University of Edinburgh, Queen Margaret University, and the University of Glasgow, and at Scottish Government sites. It is also served at Edinburgh’s five-star Balmoral Hotel.

Mr Barton said: “Cash is king but the benefits of being a winner go beyond funding. The network, support and contacts that have become available are extraordinary – it is like becoming part of an elite club, a seal of approval that opens doors.”