Royal Academy of Engineering launches Scottish engineering hub

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The latest addition to Scotland's ever-increasing list of tech hubs is a new venture from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Enterprise Hub Scotland will focus on helping local entrepreneurs to commercialize deep tech innovations, spin out companies from universities and attract further external investment.

It follows similar initiatives from the Royal Academy of Engineering in Wales and Northern Ireland, and will involve collaborating with other organizations to help engineers and innovators to develop their commercial skills.

Meanwhile the Academy’s network of expert Fellows, funders, business leaders and policymakers will also work to help attract investment for local entrepreneurs.

Based in Glasgow, it's supported by Glasgow City Council, Glasgow City Innovation District, National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, and Scottish Enterprise, and has been awarded £1.6 million in total grant funding to date. The academy has already supported 35 early-stage entrepreneurs in Scotland.

"Opening our first Enterprise Hub in Scotland marks an exciting step in the Academy’s journey to support ambitious, high-potential engineering and deep tech entrepreneurs across the country," said Professor Sir Jim McDonald, president of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

"This is another bold strategic investment by our Academy and I look forward to seeing the innovative, home-grown talent that this exciting venture will support in the future."

According to recent Academy research, the engineering economy accounts for more than a quarter of all Scottish jobs, with particular engineering employment hotspots found in Aberdeenshire and West Lothian.

Nearly one-third of the UK’s deep tech companies are based in Edinburgh, according to the Academy, with Scotland also leading the UK in investment in spin-out companies operating in critical technology sectors such as semiconductors and telecoms.

However, it said Scotland only produces spin-outs at half the rate of the rest of the UK, relative to the amount of research funding received.

Meanwhile, British Business Bank research has found that the average equity deal for small to medium enterprises in Scotland is smaller than the UK average, and the Scottish National Investment Bank cites a funding gap of between £217 million and £1.5 billion for Scottish scaleups.

To help counter this, Enterprise Hub Scotland will offer programmes for entrepreneurial engineers at different career stages, with equity-free funding, flexible training, access to the unique mentoring capability of the and access to the engineers and business leaders that make up the Royal Academy of Engineering Fellowship.

"The Enterprise Hub can provide a shop window for local innovators to a global network of investors who specialize in sectors where Scotland is strong," said Gillian Gregg, the Royal Academy of Engineering's lead of regional engagement.

"We look forward to collaborating further with other organizations within Scotland’s dynamic innovation ecosystem to support local commercialization and investment in engineering and technology."

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.