Has Aberdeen lost its entrepreneurial spark? It's just a blip, says innovation expert – Press and Journal

Robert Gordon University’s innovation manager has insisted Aberdeen can “shine again” as a centre of entrepreneurship after a decline in start-up activity.
Edward Pollock is one of the people who run RGU’s accelerator programme for early-stage entrepreneurs.
Aimed at people with “ambitious and innovative” business ideas, it is hoped the latest version, which is s backed by the Scottish Government as part of the North East Economic Recovery and Skills Fund (NERSF), will help the region’s economy recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Pollock hopes it can help to reverse a recent drop in entrepreneurial activity in the area.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM): Scotland 2020 Report, which is the latest edition in an annual series dating back to 1998, entrepreneurship activity in the north-east fell sharply in 2020.
Total early-stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) – the percentage of the working-age population who are either nascent entrepreneurs or owner-managers of a new business, fell to 6.5%, from 8.7% the year before.
Mr Pollock said: “Those born in Aberdeen know the city has had a thriving entrepreneurial population om the past.
“Getting back to that not just in Aberdeen but across the whole north-east will take everyone from fishing to life sciences and engineering – all those different communities – to help recreate that flag.
“If we do not do that, we risk Aberdeen becoming the city that got left behind.
“I really do believe it can become a shining city of the future… but it will take a lot of work to get there.”
RGU’s innovation leader said he hoped the next GEM report would show “a more positive story” for north-east TEA in 2021.
Launching a business in the middle of a pandemic and an energy transition is a frightening prospect for many people, he said.
But the support available to help people take that step has never been greater, he added.
RGU says it has supported the creation of more than 56 new businesses since 2019, creating an impact of in excess of £1.6 million in revenue or investment.
The university’s new regional start-up accelerator provides £5,000 funding, five months of training, coworking space, and one-to-one industry expert mentoring for business ideas for any sector from potentially anyone living anywhere in Aberdeen city or shire.
Mr Pollock said hundreds of applications had come in from all walks of life.
He hopes more people will take a last-minute plunge into valuable entrepreneurs’ support before the final deadline of a minute to midnight tomorrow (January 16).
Alumni of previous iterations of the scheme include RGU graduate Lucy Fisher.
She runs Knit-It, a website aiming to revolutionise the age-old craft of knitting with digital patterns and online tutorials.
Ms Fisher said: “The RGU accelerator was both a springboard for my idea and opened a door into the world of business which is quite different to anything I had experienced before.
“Not only did it literally accelerate the speed I was able to develop, test and build my concept by outlining the steps I needed to take, but it also enhanced my knowledge of business and the whole start-up scene, increasing my confidence and abilities I can apply to other parts of my life.”
She added: “It was absolutely critical to have support from mentors who could coach you through the process, which isn’t as simple as you might think, and also to have peers who are also in the same position.
“The entrepreneurial journey is not easy, especially if you try to tackle it alone.”
NERSF is a £14.3m investment by the government to support economic recovery and enhance skill levels in Aberdeen city and shire through key sector growth, employment, training, and skills development opportunities.
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