The number of new business starts-ups in Grampian and Tayside has risen to its highest on record, breaking all targets and out-performing other regions in the rest of Scotland.

Business Gateway Aberdeen City and Shire’s latest figures show that Elevator - the Scottish social enterprise dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and employees - has helped 1,276 people to start their business through Business Gateway services in the past 12 months, 27% more than the 1,000 target set for the area.

Of those, 555 (43%) were in Aberdeen city, while 721 (57%) were started in the Shire. The figures show that more than half of those starting a new business (51%) were women, while almost 6% were started by people who had been made redundant from the oil and gas industry.

In Tayside, where Elevator also delivers Business Gateway services on behalf of the local authority, more than 830 new starts were reported for 2015/16, surpassing its target of 800.

Recent statistics reveal a slow-down in the number of start-ups in Scotland with many areas of the country noticing a downward trend; figures from the Committee of Scottish Bankers show that start-ups fell from 11,772 to 11,669 in the year from December 2014 to December 2015.

Elevator Chief Executive Professor Gary McEwan said the success of Elevator and the major positive impact its innovative model is having on all sectors of the regional economy has been such that it has begun to transplant its model across the country.

“The results we are seeing today are fantastic for our region and are a return on the five years’ worth of pipeline building Elevator has been doing with schools, colleges and universities in the area. The entrepreneurial balance of power is shifting from the Central Belt of Scotland northwards with Aberdeen and Dundee anticipated to account for some 25% of Scotland’s Business Gateway start up figures.

“When the city and shire operates at virtually zero unemployment, it could be said that, as a result, fewer entrepreneurs will emerge; yet in vibrant times, our region remains exceptionally entrepreneurial.

“Now, as the economy struggles and unemployment rises, we resolutely remain a very entrepreneurial region. It’s important to the North east economy that new business start-ups know where to turn for help and we are fortunate in this region to have a clear route in to the wealth of support through the public sector via the Elevator and Business Gateway Aberdeen Hub.

“The creation of a world-class centre for entrepreneurship has provided a focus for the inspiration of new business leaders and a place where existing entrepreneurs can find the tools and skills they need to form world class businesses. I don’t think it is a coincidence that our first year operating, the only centre of its kind in the UK has resulted in a significant upswing in business start-up. This was our vision and our aim.”

The surge in the number of female entrepreneurs over the past few years has been exceptional, particularly in Aberdeenshire.

Professor McEwan said: “The figures show a continued positive trend in the number of female-led entrepreneurial businesses in the area. This can be attributed to a number of reasons, including the fact that women are generally showing a growing confidence in this area, as well as the fact that owning your own business can allow for a more flexible way of living that fits in well with family life.

“Elevator delivers a number of programmes, such as ‘Women into Business’, focussed on developing this area and it now represents a very significant part of the entrepreneurial landscape. We are fortunate to have a hugely passionate, dedicated and qualified business advisory team, which is predominantly female and so this helps too I am sure.”

Aberdeen City Council Leader Jenny Laing said: “Aberdeen is consistently producing high numbers of entrepreneurs which is testament to our Business Gateway programme and how that is being delivered by the Elevator team.

“These new figures also reflect the economic robustness of the city and the huge strides we have made in creating a place where new businesses can thrive.

“Aberdeen City Council works hand-in-hand with Elevator to provide support for new enterprises, many of which are high-growth businesses, and we are committed to the innovation taking place here. It’s a key strand of our regional economic strategy. Statistics show that businesses which set up in Aberdeen have a far greater chance of success than if they had based themselves in other parts of the country.

“And, of course, the City Region Deal, City Centre Masterplan and the wide-ranging regeneration programme currently being delivered, all play a crucial role in creating the kind of environment where new businesses can evolve and succeed.”

In the past 14 years, Elevator – previously Enterprise North East Trust - has become a recognised support unit for enterprise, promoting and supporting entrepreneurship across three of Scotland’s seven cities.

Through its £1million Centre for Entrepreneurship in Aberdeen, Elevator has created an environment in which budding entrepreneurs and supporters of enterprise can come together to get free advice, generate ideas, receive support and mentoring and network.

The centre allows for collaboration and cross-fertilisation between individuals and a wide range of organisations, including Aberdeen and Shire Councils, Scottish Enterprise, Business Gateway, The Prince’s Trust, Bridge to Business, Opportunity North East (ONE), YES, the Federation of Small Businesses, as well as a number of universities and further education establishments.

Packed full of resources to be used by business owners, aspiring entrepreneurs, teachers, lecturers and students, the centre is a focal point for enterprise and provides a haven to learn about entrepreneurship, business acumen, growth and employability.

Meanwhile, Elevator’s Accelerator Programme, launched in 2015, is aimed at ambitious early-stage business owners and teams seeking to improve their business offering, growth and investment potential at an accelerated rate. The programme helps them test, research, develop, launch and refine their products or services to become market and investor ready.

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