Frequently Asked Questions

Unlocking Ambition – Round 2, 2020/21


What is “Unlocking Ambition”?

In 2017, the First Minister for Scotland announced the Scottish Government’s commitment to a brand-new Challenge Fund to encourage high-potential entrepreneurs to innovate and accelerate their business growth whilst making a sustainable difference to Scotland’s economy. The (Opens in new window) Pilot UA Programme ran from 2018 – 2020 with significant success and the Scottish Government announced in their 2020/21 Programme for Government a further commitment to the next Phase – Unlocking Ambition Round 2.


What is the Unlocking Ambition – Round 2 programme?

The Scottish Government have allocated £1.5m to deliver the next phase of Unlocking Ambition in 2020/21 – with emphasis on supporting the recovery of our economy – and our drive towards a healthier, greener society. Delivered online, given current circumstances, the 2020/21 UA Programme (UA2), is a 6-month entrepreneurial accelerator providing wrap-around support for talented, innovative company founders. Up to 40 founders will be selected to participate in the programme and receive;

  • Business advice and development
  • Access to a £25,000 * UA2 Development Grant *Additional funding may be available for exceptional project proposals
  • Leadership training
  • Industry mentoring
  • The opportunity to work within an exceptional cohort
  • Fully funded business organisation Memberships and tickets for key events
  • High profile PR and media exposure as a member of the 2020/21 cohort


What are the eligibility criteria?

High potential, Scotland-based, ambitious entrepreneurs, particularly those in the green/low carbon, manufacturing, digital and health & wellbeing industries are encouraged to apply. Applicants must also be:

  • SMEs, with your HQ in Scotland, likely to be 0-4 years old *
  • Able to demonstrate potential for growth to £1m+ within 3 years
  • Able to create high quality jobs for Scotland
  • Able to support Scotland’s drive towards a sustainable zero-carbon economy

* indicative


My business already has turnover of over £1m – am I still eligible to apply?

Yes. We are looking for ambitious entrepreneurs with great products/services and the desire to create sustainable jobs in Scotland and make a significant difference.


Do I need to be Scottish to be eligible?

No. The Programme is open to entrepreneurial talent from across the globe. If your company meets the criteria above - you are eligible to apply.


What financial support is available as part of the Unlocking Ambition programme?

The successful cohort will access the UA2 Development Grant fund which offers £25,000* per company during their time on the programme. *Additional funding may be available for exceptional project proposals.

How much time commitment is needed for the programme?

We expect the cohort to commit to around 1-2 days a month for the 6-month duration of the programme. At present, the programme must be delivered online but may include some in-person sessions/events towards the end of the programme in early 2021 (travel and gathering restrictions permitting).


What topics will be covered in the masterclasses and seminars?

Typical topics may include; business growth, internationalising, connecting with investors, successful pitching, leading your team, right-first-time recruitment, building your Board, being mission-led, embedding fair work practices, entrepreneurial leadership and resilience. Previous speakers have included senior representatives from; Skyscanner, Warner Bros., Facebook, Apple, Babson College (USA) IBM, Linked In, Social Investment Scotland, Deputy Mayor of London and a host of investors, GlobalScots and highly experienced entrepreneurs.


Can my co-founder/s participate in the Programme with me?

Yes. Co-founders on the Pilot programme found that sharing and participating in sessions together helped to expand and embed their UA experience into the business, with great results.


What happens to my Application once it is submitted?

A panel led by SE will assess and decide on Applicants to call for interview. Interviews will be held online during early October 2020 – with programme offers being issued soon after. We expect the cohort to be assembled and ready to begin the programme w/c 26th October 2020.


Will I get feedback on my Application?

We will not be able to provide feedback to every applicant. Applicants that attend for interview will be provided with feedback from the panel on their decision.


What criteria will the panel use when assessing applications?

The successful Applicants will be selected based on their ability to demonstrate significant growth potential, their commitment to growing a sustainable and impactful business in Scotland, support Scotland’s zero carbon goals and have potential to create good jobs.


What are the Key Dates for the programme?

The Key Dates for the 2020-21 Programme are:

  • Applications close at Noon on Monday 21 September 2020
  • Shortlisted Applicants will be invited for online interview between 28 Sept – 6 Oct 2020
  • Successful Applicants will be notified by mid-October
  • The cohort will participate in Induction sessions w/c 26 October 2020
  • The formal Programme will last to the end of March 2021

The full programme of activity will be provided to the successful Applicants.



Please contact the Programme Manager, Alison Loveday, by email: