THE blueprint for the future of Scotland’s economy was criticised by some for being too broad-brush, and lacking ambition.

One positive point agreed upon by most, however, is the commitment to entrepreneurship, which can be a way of both encouraging innovation and new ventures as well as creating a climate where Scottish success stories can be developed for the long term, rather than being sold to overseas investors.

Scottish entrepreneurs Lord Willie Haughey, who built his global air-conditioning and refrigeration business from scratch and helped save Celtic from going bust with Fergus McCann in 1994, and Sir Tom Hunter, whose Sports Division helped him became Scotland’s first billionaire, championed the move with gusto.

The proposed chief of entrepreneurship would, said Kate Forbes, the economy secretary, “work in partnership with industry and investors to drive forward our ambitions, including support for businesses with alternative ownership models”.

Lord Haughey and Sir Tom said on their Go Radio Business Show this week that the nurturing of entrepreneurship in Scotland should fall to not just one but two key individuals, with one firmly from the more exuberant end of the scale.

HeraldScotland: Lord Willie Haughey championed entrepreneurship roles.Lord Willie Haughey championed entrepreneurship roles.

Lord Haughey said: “Both myself and Tom have fed into the minister that we believe those two key people that you have to drive this are vital.

“So, the person who Kate chooses to lead the government’s initiative but also that entrepreneurial type person with overarching responsibility that is going to dovetail with Scottish Enterprise and SNIB.

“Knowing that and seeing the remit, one of the things I’ve said that will be very very difficult to find that person, and if you find that person and you can deliver this that will be a huge plus.”

He said that “they will both be civil service roles, but the other guy will be a bit more flamboyant because he is entrepreneurial”.


Sir Tom said: “I am a little bit worried that when they try and find the right person it doesn’t quite get there and it’s maybe someone who is too academic ... it needs to be an entrepreneurial person.

“I will say right here and now if it’s a matter of money that is the problem the Hunter Foundation will underwrite it because that is how important this is to Scotland.

“We mustn’t compromise on this person. They are going to be the most important thing in getting this done. If it is only money that is in the way I am taking that off the table.”

It could also help Scotland retain its talent and build on its achievements, and comes against a worrying backdrop.

“In these tumultuous times,” writes business editor Ian McConnell in his Called to Account column this week. “It is perhaps not particularly surprising the impending disappearance from the stock market of another two Scottish companies which are household names - Stagecoach and John Menzies - seems to have passed largely below the radar in the political and corporate arenas.”

Colin McLean, managing director of SVM Asset Management, says in his column that “the takeover trend is concerning”.

Elsewhere, plans to develop the giant Cambo field off Shetland are set to be revived after an Israeli-owned firm acquired the firm leading work on the controversial project, business correspondent Mark Williamson writes this week.