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Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Exciting Opportunity for a Senior Consultant with ekosgen – Glasgow

Application deadline: 10 May 2017

Are you committed to a career in economic development? Do you want to become part of an exciting business and help us to achieve our growth plans? ekosgen is one of the UK’s leading independent economic consultancy firms providing advice to public and private sector clients. We provide economic and social insight to help our clients make better decisions and have a positive impact on people, places and the economy. We aim to be their consultant of choice for expert advice, timely support, innovative thinking and realistic, affordable and workable strategies and plans.

As a consultant your workload will always be changing to reflect new local and national priorities and the needs of our individual clients but you will work on a wide range of economic issues including employment, skills, innovation, business growth, communities, health, land and premises, culture, leisure and tourism.  

Flexibility, team player, listens to clients and has a passion for new ideas and creativity, great at multi-tasking, self-motivated and energetic, can keep calm under pressure and exhibits professionalism. If you think you fit the bill then we want to hear from you!

This is an exciting opportunity for an individual seeking career progression, with:
  • A good honours degree (and ideally a post-graduate qualification) in economics, social geography, politics or town planning
  • At least 5 years previous consultancy and/or research experience
  • Excellent quantitative and analytical skills
  • Excellent written skills including report writing
  • Experience of managing or commissioning consultancy projects
Experience in two or more of the following areas of work is also required:
  • Economic impact assessment
  • Project and programme evaluation
  • Project development and case making support
  • Strategy development
  • Socio-economic assessment
We offer a competitive salary and a range of other benefits including:
  • 35 days holiday
  • Employer contribution pension scheme
  • Childcare vouchers
  • Employee wellbeing initiatives such as cycle to work scheme, travel pass funding
  • A positive and supportive work culture where people are supported to realise their full potential (including through a performance and career management system and training)
  • Staff Wellbeing Package which includes free dental and optical care
  • Performance Related Bonus
We are an Equal Opportunities employer. We do not discriminate on the grounds of gender, race, disability, religion, age or sexuality.

If you are interested in working for a dynamic organisation please send us your CV with a covering letter by email to Lee Williamson, Business Support Manager at lee.williamson@ekosgen.co.uk

The closing date for applications is 10th May 2017.

£500,000 Announced to Tackle Employment Barriers in Scotland

Scottish Government - Funding of £500,000 to address long standing barriers in accessing the labour market has been announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The Workplace Equality Fund will reduce employment inequalities so that everyone – irrespective of gender, race or disability – has the opportunity to fulfil their potential, and improve Scotland’s economic performance as a result.

Speaking at the STUC annual congress in Aviemore, the First Minister said:

“Our trade union movement is a source of huge strength for our country. We see strong trade unions as vital partners in our efforts to reduce inequality and deliver inclusive growth.

“One of the values our Scottish Business Pledge seeks to encourage is gender equality in the workplace. We want to close the gap between the proportion of men in the workforce and the proportion of women, and tackle barriers to progression and unfair pay differentials.

“But we also know there are employment inequalities across other protected characteristics – like race and disability.  

“So I am pleased to announce that, through our new Workplace Equality Fund, we will provide an initial £500,000 to help address these disparities. The funding will go to groups who can demonstrate that their efforts will help people overcome employment barriers.

“It’s a small but potentially significant way in which we can help address a major economic and social issue.  And it’s in-keeping with the broader principles of the union movement and our shared commitment to fair work and inclusive growth.  By ensuring everyone in society is able to flourish, everybody in Scotland will benefit.”

Background

A commitment to establish the Workplace Equality Fund was made in the Labour Market Strategy.


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

New Scotland House innovation and investment hub opens in London

Scottish Government - Scotland’s latest Innovation and Investment Hub has officially opened in London with more than 450 businesses registering their interest in becoming members in the first few weeks.

Aimed at helping ambitious Scottish companies take advantage of business opportunities in London and internationally, Scotland House will provide touchdown facilities and a place to meet customers and target new markets, secure investment and showcase products and services.

It also brings together officials from the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and VisitScotland under one roof to provide a Team Scotland approach to supporting businesses and attracting visitors and investment to Scotland.

Officially opening Scotland House, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“London is a very important trading market and a meeting place for the world’s business leaders, but for Scottish businesses it can be challenging and costly to try and break into these markets.

“The new hub will play a critical role in attracting investment to Scotland, helping businesses trade internationally and raising Scotland’s international profile.

“Scotland House will provide Scottish companies with a base to build new partnerships and a low cost place to trade and I am pleased that more than 450 businesses are interested in becoming members of the hub.

“As we face the uncertainty and threat of a hard Brexit, having a Scottish hub in London will help support and stimulate the Scottish economy and show that we are open for business.

“We are already seeing the benefits of our presence in Dublin and I look forward to our next investment and innovation hubs in Brussels and Berlin.”

Background

Images from the official opening will be available on https://www.flickr.com/photos/firstministerofscotland

Scottish businesses are being encouraged to register their interest in ‘Scotland House’, which will provide a meeting space for businesses and other organisations as well as London-based support to businesses working with Scotland’s enterprise and tourism agencies.

Full membership details will be launched in the coming weeks, businesses can register their interest in Scotland House.

Based at 58 Victoria Embankment, Scotland House will also provide a base for the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Development International and VisitScotland in London.


It follows the opening of the first Innovation and Investment Hub in Dublin last year with plans progressing on Hubs in Brussels and Berlin.

FSB: Target £6bn Scottish council procurement spend on smaller firms

FSB - The average Scottish council spends less than a fifth of their procurement budget with local small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), figures uncovered by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) show.

Launching its manifesto ahead of the May 4 council polls, the small business campaign group says Scotland’s incoming town hall administrations must pledge to increase spending with local firms. Scotland’s 32 local authorities spend over £6.1 billion a year procuring goods and services.
Statistics collated by the Improvement Service – the national organisation tasked with improving local government – show that the average Scottish council spent only 19.7 per cent of their procurement budget with smaller firms in their area in 2015/16.

There are 348,000 SMEs operating in Scotland – accounting for 99.3% of all businesses and providing an estimated 1.2 million jobs.

The data shows there’s variation across councils in relation to procurement spend – with West Dunbartonshire council delivering just 5.8 per cent of their budget with local firms. At the other end of the spectrum, Shetland Islands council uses more than half (53.6%) of its spending power boosting the local economy.

FSB says it understands why smaller councils are likely to have lower levels of local procurement. But it highlights that all of Scotland’s city councils, with the exception of Aberdeen, spend less than one pound in four with local SMEs - with Glasgow and Dundee falling behind the national average.
 Procurement - Spend Scotland

Andy Willox, FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said: “Council budgets are under significant pressure. That’s why it is important that they squeeze every drop of value out of their spending power by targeting it on their local economies.

“We’re calling on every Scottish council to increase their spending with local firms by two per cent per year, delivering a £600m boost to Scottish business by 2021.”
FSB’s procurement call is a key recommendation from their 2017 Scottish local government election manifesto, launched today. The group is also pressing for action on local roads and action to ensure city deals work for local economies.

Andy Willox said: “Most smaller firms have far more contact with their local authority than central government. And we know that smaller firms are key to prosperous local economies. In these uncertain times, strong partnerships between councils and their business communities are more important than ever.   

 “Our manifesto sets out practical measures councils can implement to boost their local economies and reduce demands on council services.”


ENDS

Incubators and accelerators: An updated directory for the UK

Nesta has a long-standing interest in understanding startup support, including methods of incubation and acceleration. 

Today, we publish a new study, commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and produced by Nesta with support from the UK Science Parks Association (UKSPA) and Synoptica, an artificial intelligence data provider, which maps the landscape of incubators and accelerators in the UK, identifying where they are located and what sectors they cover. 

At the same time, we are also publishing a new directory of incubators and accelerators in the UK. This directory is, we believe, the most comprehensive of its kind for the UK and we hope that it will be a useful tool for both entrepreneurs searching for programmes and facilities to which they can apply, as well as to researchers.



Key findings

  • We identified 205 incubators and 163 accelerators currently active in the UK, considerably more than previously estimated.
  • We estimate that these incubators and accelerators support around 3,450 and 3,660 new businesses per year, respectively, and therefore represent an important component of the startup ecosystem.
  • We estimate that financial support provided by accelerators equates to around £33 million of investment into startups per year.
  • We find that the previous view of accelerators as 'feeder programmes' for incubators no longer hold true: in our study, accelerators reported catering to a similar profile of business stages as incubators, suggesting that accelerators are best seen as alternatives to incubators rather than precursors.
  • We found that the business model of accelerators has also changed: in our Startup Factories report, our definition included the fact that accelerators typically take equity, but we now find that this is much less common than previously reported.
  • We find that corporate-funded programmes are now in the majority, with 51% of programmes receiving finance from this source. Furthermore, this trend for corporate funded accelerators appears to be growing very rapidly. VC funds now account for a small proportion of accelerators.
  • Accelerators are generally less reliant on public funding than incubators, often being financed instead by corporates. All incubators in the North East, along with more than 35% in Wales, Scotland and the West Midlands are entirely public / university funded.
  • While incubators are spread relatively evenly around the UK, more than half of accelerators are currently based in London. However, there appears to be a growing trend of accelerators being set up in other startup hubs such as Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge and Manchester.
  • Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have a greater concentration of both incubators and accelerators, relative to the number of new businesses, than most other regions.
  • There is a low number of incubators and accelerators, relative to the number of new businesses, in the real estate and retail sectors, as well as in construction.
Discussion

Accelerators and incubators continue to grow and develop. This report and accompanying dataset illustrates how these startup support organisations are changing rapidly.  
One consequence of the changing space is that our previous definitions may need updating - especially concerning the matter of equity taken. 

In relation to geography, the concentration of accelerators in London is not entirely surprising - this is where many companies are headquartered, and where the UK's VC industry is based - but in Nesta's view it risks further exacerbating regional inequalities, and may drive a relocation of (digital) talent towards the capital, hindering the development of clusters elsewhere. This is particularly true given that, in our view, many programmes actually have a limited catchment area - that is, programmes which are in principle open to applicants from across the UK may in practice be relatively local. For this reason, the trend towards new accelerators being launched outside London is welcome, in Nesta's view.

We also note that some Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) seem to contain neither an accelerator nor an incubator. Whether or not this is a problem is unclear - it is possible, for instance, that they are adequately served by neighbouring LEPs - but this may warrant examination.
In relation to growth, the current growth rate of accelerators shows no sign of slowing. We estimate that accelerators already support approximately the same number of firms as incubators - although the type of support offered can vary considerably. If the current rate of growth is maintained, we estaimate that there will be more accelerators than incubators in the UK within the next 18 months or so. 

Given this rate of increase, a number of questions emerge. Is this rate sustainable, or are we in an 'accelerator bubble'? Are corporates gaining value from accelerators, or are they simply mimicking competitors? Do some regions of the UK have too many support programmes, or will their presence help stimulate further demand for their services? Do we need a new umbrella organisation to replace the defunct UKBI? Is public money needed to drive more support in certain areas?

This report does not answer these questions, but it does provide a dataset on which to build. The full dataset can be downloaded from the Gov.uk website and we encourage others to interrogate the data further.

If you are involved with an accelerator or incubator and you would like to add or amend some information in the directory, please email accelerators@nesta.org.uk. Any additions or amendments that Nesta receives until the 12th of June 2017 will be added to the directory. Please note: the report will not be updated.


Thursday, 13 April 2017

Scottish business confidence 'rises for first time in two years'

BBC (13/4/2017) – Scottish business confidence has risen for the first time in almost two years, according to a survey.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found confidence improved slightly in the first quarter of 2017, but remained in negative territory.

That contrasted with the UK as a whole, where more firms were optimistic rather than pessimistic about their prospects.

More than 300 Scottish firms responded to the survey, which took place between 30 January and 17 February.

The study suggested that employment growth was flat for small businesses during the quarter.

While some companies expected an increase in staffing levels over the next three months, hiring intentions were still much lower in Scotland than the UK average.

The survey also suggested that revenues for Scottish small businesses declined during the quarter at the fastest rate for four years.

However, a majority of Scottish firms said they expected sales and turnover to grow over the course of this year.

The state of the domestic economy was highlighted as the largest barrier to growth by almost half of respondents.

Four in 10 firms cited consumer demand as a brake on growth, while a quarter blamed skills shortages and an increasing number of firms raised concerns about rising costs for inputs, fuel and utilities.

FSB said the statistics suggested Scottish economic growth would remain below trend in the near future.

Andy Willox, FSB's Scottish policy convener, said: "Scottish business confidence couldn't fall much further at the end of 2016.

"A bounce at the start of this year is welcome, but looks like it will be tricky to sustain given that firms are reporting falling revenues.

"Too few Scottish businesses have faith that our economy is travelling in the right direction.

"The UK government needs to convince firms that their plans for Brexit will safeguard their interests.

"The Scottish government and our local councils also need to put local growth at the top of their agenda."


Source: BBC News

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Action plan launched to boost Scotland’s social enterprise sector

Scottish Government – A scheme to encourage the launch of new companies that benefit and involve communities has seen annual funding double to £1 million for each of the next three years.

The Social Entrepreneurs Fund offers grants and business support to help people make their ‘social start-up’ aspirations a reality. Increased backing for the fund is just one of 92 commitments made in the 2017-2020 Social Enterprise Action Plan.

The plan follows publication of Scotland’s first-ever Social Enterprise Strategy, aimed at sustainably growing the sector over the next decade. Already, Scotland has more than 5,000 social enterprises – business that reinvest profits to address important issues like homelessness, unemployment or climate change – with 200 new enterprises starting up every year.

Other commitments in the action plan include:

  • £1.2 million for Just Enterprise, a business support programme providing workshops in finance, sales, market research and e-commerce
  • Bringing the international Buy Social certification scheme to Scotland, making it easier for consumers to know the social impact of buying certain products or services
  • Expanding the use of Community Share schemes  – an innovative way for communities to raise capital for new local social enterprises
  • Providing social enterprise learning in every school through the Enterprising Schools programme, inspiring the next generation of social entrepreneurs
Equalities Secretary Angela Constance announced the action plan on a visit to the Milk Café in Govanhill – launched in 2015 with £3,900 seed capital from the Social Entrepreneurs Fund. The café provides employment, training and support for ethnic minority women in Glasgow.

Ms Constance said:

“Scotland’s social enterprises are all about empowering communities and being a catalyst for change.  They also employ more than 100,000 people and contribute around £1.86 billion to our economy each year, so they make a significant economic contribution as well.

“We are already recognised as a social enterprise world-leader, backed by Scottish Government support in 2016/17 of around £6.5 million, however I am determined we do more. That is why we have set out a three-year action plan, including doubling the Social Entrepreneurs Fund, helping encourage the next phase of social enterprise innovators.

“Businesses like the Milk Café – offering a safe space for ethnic minority women to gain work experience, improve their English skills and integrate locally – show the huge difference a social enterprise can make in their local community.”
The Social Entrepreneur Fund is administered by Firstport, Scotland’s development agency for social start-ups. Firstport chief executive Karen McGregor added:

“Social entrepreneurship has a proven ability to tackle problems and transform lives and communities. Firstport supports an average of three people a day to take their first steps into social enterprise and has invested in over 800 social entrepeneurs.

“We are delighted that the Scottish Government is doubling its investment in the Social Entrepreneurs Fund, which combined with Firstport’s free business advice and resources, will enable us to boost the number of social enterprises throughout Scotland even further.”

In a joint statement, Pauline Graham, CEO of Social Firms Scotland, Aidan Pia, executive director of Senscot, and Fraser Kelly, chief executive of Social Enterprise Scotland, said:

“Scotland is driving forward an ambitious strategy for social enterprise growth and development. We believe that the new ten year strategy should be backed up by strong, practical action on the ground. We therefore warmly welcome the launch of the first action plan to take this process forward.

“Our social enterprise community, stretching across every part of urban and rural Scotland, is ambitious and ready to increase its contribution to Scottish society. We now have a clear plan for the growth and development of social enterprise in Scotland over the next decade.”

Background