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Our enterprise competitions are back for another academic year, today we’re looking at a real success story…from entering our Fresh Ideas competition to running a successful business.

If you have an idea, then FRESH IDEAS is for you. From October to January EVERY MONTH you’ll have the chance to win a cash prize to help you develop your idea into a real business venture.

Toni Roddie, founder of womenswear label, Saunt & Sinner entered Fresh Ideas in 2012, whilst studying Fashion Design at Gray’s School of Art. During the competition, she took part in Start-Up Day which provides an opportunity for competition finalists to learn from experts on how to improve ideas and develop valuable skills including how to successfully pitch. Toni went on to win third place in the competition was also introduced to SIE’s Business Innovation Advisor, Dawn Shand. Dawn helped Toni to write a business plan and acted as a mentor.


Following her Fresh Ideas win, Toni was given additional support from Robert Gordon University’s business incubator programme, and secured £10,000 of seed money from a private investor.

Toni participated in the pilot year of Fashion Foundry, a programme of events, workshops, advice and bespoke mentoring for Scottish fashion designers run by Cultural Enterprise Office. She also took part in Entrepreneurial Spark’s business accelerator which includes free office space.

Toni launched her first capsule collection, The Broken Doll in March 2013. Since then, Saunt & Sinner has been worn by celebrities such as Emeli Sandé, Paloma Faith and Sophie Kennedy.  Toni was also nominated for a Scottish Fashion Award in 2013 in the Young Scottish Designer of the Year category.

Do you have a business idea and fancy following in Toni’s footsteps?  She has this piece of advice:

“Just go for it. There’s so much opportunity in Scotland. There are so many people out there who want to help and support you. Network as much as you can. Seek out funding and mentoring”.

Don’t worry if you don’t know a lot about business. That’s what we’re here for! The process is designed to help you develop your business know-how and show you how to turn a good idea into a successful new business. So even if you’re not a winner, you’ll still benefit from our help and be in a great position to take the next steps.

Monthly winners and highly commended entrants will have the chance to participate in Exploration Day (worth £150) in February and enter the next phase of the competition. The final top 5 entries, each winning up to £1000, will be announced at a special Awards Event in March 2017.

New this year, there will also be special awards recognising the best ideas meeting Scottish Government priorities. For 2016-17, these include: Healthcare, Food & Drink, and the Creative Industry. Apply online here.

Want the full story? Read Toni’s case study here.



We’ve come to the end of the 2015-16 academic year and what a busy year it’s been! This week we’re reflecting on the past year and rounding up the highlights in preparation for the year ahead.

The new SIE interns started in September 2015 in institutions all across Scotland including six of Scotland’s colleges. They were busy championing entrepreneurship, promoting our enterprise competitions and hosting local events throughout the year.

Also in September, we invited students to join us at RNIB’s Techshare Europe 2015 along with 300 attendees including Samsung, Google and Apple! We ran a live innovation lab over the two days, where students worked directly with blind and partially-sighted people and industry experts to generate creative solutions to challenges.

Our competitions kicked off for another year with Fresh Ideas launching in October. There are four chances to win with prizes of £500, £250 & £100 each month (Oct – Jan). All monthly winners & highly commended entries had the chance to attend Exploration Day in February 2016 and pitch for a top prize of £1,000

fresh ideas

In March we held our Student Enterprise Summit in Edinburgh with hundreds of students, entrepreneurs and members of the support community coming together under one roof.  It was a day packed with inspiration and advice! We heard real-life business stories and put questions to the entrepreneurs who have been there and done it. Throughout the day, students were invited to browse our enterprise fair and pose for selfies in the photo booth.


The Summit also incorporated the SIE Annual Awards where we crowned our Interns of the Year and announced the winners of Fresh ideas and New Ventures.

This year also saw the launch of our brand new social enterprise competition, I’m an Innovator. We launched back in February, with students entering their ideas online, and being selected by judges and invited to a one day workshop, and then to a residential Bootcamp where they had the opportunity to improve their enterprise skills and pitch to judges for £1000.  Read more about the I’m an Innovator Bootcamp and winners here.

We also launched four new case studies in the ‘I’m an Entrepreneur’ series. You can see videos from MindMate, Toni (Saunt & Sinner), Amanda (All Day Designs) and Geared App as well as posters and written case studies here. All are packed full of inspiring stories of how they transformed their ideas into business ventures.

IAE 2016

Phew, It’s been a busy one! As this academic year comes to an end, we are reflecting on all that’s been achieved by SIE entrepreneurs and looking forward to welcoming our brand new team of interns in the coming weeks – make sure to look out for them on campus!

With exam season upon us and graduation approaching fast, lots of students will be thinking about what they’ll do next. Some will start their own business right here in Scotland and many will search for a graduate job. Extra enterprise skills can help no matter which path you want to take. Our workshops and masterclasses are the perfect places to start gathering those extra skills but we also regularly share advice on our website and right here on our blog (subscribe below to catch all SIE posts). Today, we’re passing on some of our favourite videos with top tips on what employers are looking for to help you land your dream job:

Tessa Hartmann, Founder of Hartmann Media & the Scottish Fashion Awards talks about her experiences as an entrepreneur  and what she looks for in potential employees in a session recorded especially for the 2013 SIE Student Enterprise Summit.

Tessa Hartmann.png

We assembled a team of experts to make up our Employability Panel at the 2015 SIE Student Enterprise Summit. Belinda Roberts (WeDO Scotland), Paul Atkinson (Par Equity LLP) and Zarah Prior (BrewDog) answered questions about applications, CV’s, interviews and more from students and graduates in the audience. See the full panel session below.

Employability Panel 2105.png

Looking for more? Visit our YouTube channel for inspiring videos and our website for real stories from young entrepreneurs.


Last week, we started a new blog series looking at what the SIE Interns get up to once they’ve finished their internship with us and university/college life ends. This week, we’re sharing an update on former University of Strathclyde intern, Rebecca Pick who is now the Founder of Pick Protection. Our current Strathclyde intern, Vanessa, spoke to Rebecca to find out more…



When were you a SIE Intern?
I was an intern during my 3rd year at the University of Strathclyde and I heard about it from the previous year’s intern. She said that it was a great opportunity for those wanting to get started in entrepreneurship so I was eager to apply for the position. I would always see her dotting around campus in her orange t-shirt and thought it would be great fun to give it a try.

What did you do as an Intern?
I did a whole range of things whilst being an intern. Probably the best one was when I teamed up with the Glasgow Caledonian intern to organise a pub quiz. It was really good because we managed to get people from both our universities to attend. We also got the people that were just at the pub anyway. It worked really well and was loads of fun.

What was the best thing about being an SIE Intern?
The best thing about being an intern was getting to talk to people. Whenever you were promoting SIE you would hear people’s ideas and it was really interesting and started sparking my own thinking. Also, I got to know the people at Strathclyde Entrepreneurial Network and if it wasn’t for SIE that never would have happened. That has led to lots more opportunities. Being an intern also looks really good to future employers as it shows you’re proactive during your time at university.


What have you been doing since?
When the internship finished I was then eligible to apply for competitions within SIE so I applied and managed to win the Young Innovators Challenge. That gave me enough money to start my business, Pick Protection. Since then I’ve really been focusing on getting my business up and running.

So, what exactly is Pick Protection?
Pick Protection is bringing a new personal attack and lone working alarm to the market. It’s basically a really small, discrete alarm that, once activated, can send the police your exact location, send a text to your friends and family letting them know. It means everyone knows about the situation and can get to you as quickly as possible. It also records the dialogue, which can be used in court to get a conviction if necessary. We have managed to raise investments and are hoping to launch the product in late spring.

Rebecca Pick speaking

What’s the best thing about running your own business?
I think the main thing is that it’s really exciting. There is so much potential and I don’t know what’s going to happen whereas in a graduate scheme that wouldn’t be the case. I get to do whatever I want, when I want. No one really tells me what to do so that’s quite nice. It’s also given me the freedom to bring something to market that I’m really passionate about and that will make a difference. It definitely takes a lot more time but it’s a lot more rewarding.

Would you encourage other students to apply for the internship/become an entrepreneur?
Yes! Definitely, I would tell them to do both. Being an SIE intern creates a really good platform for you to launch your own business. You build a great network and you have lots of people to go to for advice. It also makes you aware of all the resources available to you because you have been telling everyone else about them. All that together gives you the confidence to go start a business. So, go and do both!

If you would like to become an SIE Intern for the next academic year, visit our website for all of the details! For more on Rebecca’s story, visit her case study on the SIE website. 

This article first appeared in Ignite Magazine, Issue 14.


Social innovation is an emerging worldwide phenomenon that brings together enterprising and entrepreneurial thinking with creative, innovative skills to deliver solutions with a social impact; benefitting people’s lives and communities for the better. Scotland has a fantastic history of innovation and ideas that have changed the world. A great example of a social innovator is SIE Entrepreneur, Liita Cairney. 


Liita Cairney is currently studying a PhD in Global Public Health Policy at the University of Edinburgh. She is the Director of Kalitasha; a business developing a wide range of solutions to poverty-related health issues. The company’s first product, Koree, will provide an effective solution to the issue of menstrual hygiene.  To collect research for her PhD, Liita visited her home country, Namibia, during which she had a chance meeting with the Prime Minister who deterred her from seeking a job with the Namibian Government. Instead, he inspired her to develop a simple solution which would address an issue of poverty still present in Namibia. Liita successfully identified a social issue, showing that a little conscious observation can go a long way.  She has recognised an opportunity in the market for an effective product with potential for great impact on impoverished communities.

In 2015, Liita was awarded a grant from the SIE Patent Fund. Her application for the international component of the UK patent for Koree has now been submitted and she continues to work with SIE Business and Innovation Advisor, Tom McGuire, to progress her business further. See Liita talking about her journey here.

Feeling inspired by Liita’s story?  We want YOUR* ideas which address social problems and make a difference to how we live in Scotland. The ideas don’t have to be the next ‘big thing’, but like Liita’s Koree, must have the potential to make a real social impact. The solutions to the challenges we face are out there and just need that first spark of ingenuity to bring them together!

There are prizes of £100 for the best 50 ideas. Both individual and team entries will be accepted. Entries can be submitted online until 6 April 2016.  Up to fifty entrants will be invited to a special Innovation Day event in April. They’ll work on their ideas with the help of business experts and mentors and get ready for the next stage of the competition. Stage 2 judging will take place in May.  Up to twenty-five finalists will attend a special residential boot camp in June where they will pitch to judges for the chance to win £1000.

Think outside the box. Think Differently.  Be an innovator!

Visit to enter by 6th April 2016.

*Entrants must be students or a recent graduate (up to two years) from a Scottish University or College.


The 21st century has brought with it a number of challenges and opportunities for Scotland. Healthcare issues such as obesity and dementia are a growing threat, which need addressed as a nation. There are also opportunities to develop new and cleaner sources of power for our country, make our cities more sustainable, and improve our communities with the latest technological developments. The solutions to the challenges we face are out there and just need that spark of ingenuity to bring them together!

Social innovation is an emerging global phenomenon that brings together enterprising and entrepreneurial thinking with creative innovative skills to deliver solutions with a social impact. Done well, it changes people’s lives and communities for the better.

The Young Innovators Challenge 2015 invites Scotland’s students (18+) to submit ideas which address problems or opportunities related to one of three areas that already exhibit opportunities for social innovation:

  • Healthcare and wellbeing
  • Green and sustainable energy resources
  • Smarter communities and infrastructure

Thirty successful entrants could receive £2000 to work on their innovations throughout summer 2015 and take it from an idea to a potential solution! They’ll then pitch in August for the chance to win up to an additional £5000.

Entries can be submitted online until 8th April 2015. Individual and team entries will be accepted. Up to 150 entrants will be invited to a special social innovation development weekend event in April. Here they will develop their ideas into potential social innovations with appropriate mentors. Final competition judging takes place in May.

The best ideas will then be supported through a summer of residential and workshop events. There will be opportunities to meet and be challenged by leaders in social innovation, get great opportunities to network with other innovators and pitch for additional funding of up to £5000 in August.

We received some fantastic winners in 2014. Are you up to the challenge?

Visit for more information.

During November, SIE were invited by Design Lecturer, Helena Good to engage with students at Edinburgh College in an innovative, multi-agency project which set out to give students a real life taste of enterprise. Enterprise Assistant, Daniel Quinn, explains SIE’s involvement.

The project played host to 19 students and one external agency, Scottish Soapworks; an organisation who prides themselves on using the best organic and sustainable ingredients in their soaps, oils and other bath products. Through catchy branding and personalized packages, they have one of the most diverse selections of goods available in the market.

Edinburgh College and Soapworks designed the project to challenge students to develop and sell natural and sustainable bathroom products for an upcoming Christmas sale with the profits funding their final year degree show. The groups began by constructing a marketing campaign, highlighting how their product would look and outlining the customers which they hoped to attract. Various ideas were pitched to Soapworks, all of which showed great promise and creativity but eventually two were selected to take their campaigns forward. The additional teams were filtered into the two winners; ‘Team Dirty’ and ‘Team Pick N Mix’.

It was at this stage that SIE entered to help students identify the roles which they could play within these two new teams, stressing the importance of collaboration and playing to strengths when implementing an idea.

As the students began to map out their projects they were prompted to consider their targeted customers and routes to the market using the Business Model Canvas. What became evident almost immediately was the disparity in both business models, each targeting different customers with different values to their product. Team Dirty used a guerrilla advertising campaign, whimsical marketing material and a target audience of students. This differed vastly from the elegance of the Pick N Mix products, designed as a luxury Christmas or Birthday gift. Both teams represented different values and separate markets but both were able to articulate how they may be able to create and deliver that value to their customer.

As the session drew to a close both teams had managed to successfully utilise the skills their learned and existing information to action plan future steps. The success of this particular workshop can be largely accredited to the energy and involvement which the students of Edinburgh College brought to the delivery, creating a very valuable and dynamic platform where they were free to experiment and adapt their ideas.

Student Rachel Cameron, part of the Pick n Mix team later entered the product into SIEs ‘Fresh Ideas’ competition and saw herself and her team mates pick up a Highly Commended national prize in December;

It’s really nice to see the finished product come together from our designs and it was good to be involved in the whole development process from the start. Pitching the product was nerve wracking but it’s made us much more confident in presenting our work… With the help of the Scottish Institute for Enterprise and their Business Model Canvas we also learned lots about product logistics like legal requirements, ingredients and pricing, which we didn’t have much of understanding of before. That’s really helped us think about the practical side when we’re designing, so we’re not just making products look nice.”


We’re only half way through the 2014-15 academic year and yet so much has happened already. I wanted to round up the highlights and deliver some exciting news for 2015!

The new SIE interns started in September in institutions all across Scotland including six of Scotland’s colleges.They’ve been busy championing entrepreneurship and hosting local events over the last few months – make sure to get in touch with the intern at your local institution for more exciting activities next semester.

Ocotber 2014 InternsWe announced The 2014 Get Enterprising competition winner in October; Cavid Nadirov from Edinburgh College of Art. His solution to over-consuming in the 21st century was to create a sharing economy platform, where people can lend items and share rides, knowledge, their time and more. Congratulations to Cavid who received the £100 prize and re-submitted his idea to Fresh Ideas which was selected as highly commended.

We changed the format for Fresh Ideas this year to an ongoing monthly competition from October – January. Each month, there’s an opportunity for students and graduates (up to two years) to win £500, £250 or £100. The winners of the October and November competitions have been announced and will now progress to the next stage of the competition where they could win a top prize of £1000 in March 2015.

New Ventures is still open for entry for students or graduates with a well-developed business idea or have an established business. There’s a chance to win up to £10,000 so make sure you apply by 29th January 2015.

We launched four new case studies in the ‘I’m an Entrepreneur’ series. You can see videos from Swipii, Kara (Articulate Language Camps), Rosalind (Punchline Comedy) and Rachel (Mademoiselle Macaron) as well as posters and written case studies, all packed full of inspiring stories of how they transformed their ideas into business ventures.

IAE 2014 Posters

Looking forward into 2015, I’m delighted to tell you that the Young Innovators Challenge will return in February 2015 and remain focused on social innovation. We’ll bring you more information in the New Year via our website and social media channels however, if you would like to register your interest and receive email updates about the competition, please sign up here.

Last but not least, I’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and the best of luck with your semester one exams.


Our Innovation & Enterprise Director, Ann Davidson, celebrates her fourth anniversary at SIE in January! She talks below about her experience of using yoga to develop entrepreneurial skills and introduces Judi Farrell, Owner of Merchant City Yoga.

My fourth SIE anniversary coincides with the time I began to practice Yoga on a serious basis. As our Innovation and Enterprise Programme expanded rapidly, yoga has helped boost flagging energy levels and keep me healthy which is as far as the connection between work and yoga has been – until now!

Back in January 2012, the Dean of Babson College was already making comparisons with yoga and the practice of entrepreneurship. He used the analogy of yoga practitioners finding their pain point in a posture, pulling back until that pain became a feeling of discomfort that they could sustain in the posture. By holding this discomfort they progressed into the more advanced postures. His advice to entrepreneurs was to do the same; discomfort would lead to progress and advancement in their entrepreneurial journey. When delivering workshops as part of the Innovation and Enterprise programme, I have conveyed this message by giving yoga analogies to illustrate ‘playing to your edge’; developing muscle memory when developing skills as an innovative thinker.

As a means of deepening my own practice, I commenced Yoga Teacher Training in September 2014 and since then I have been making more connections with Yoga and Entrepreneurship. What if we were to mirror the physical and mental aspects of yoga in our mind to open up to fresh ways of seeing the world and new opportunities? If we pull back our shoulders and raise our heads are we more likely to see things and invite people to engage with us. If we drop our heads and hunch our shoulders then we miss things and does this not apply to the application of minds as well?

To learn about more, read onto the article below written by Judi Farrell, yoga practitioner, entrepreneur and owner of Merchant City Yoga.

We know running our own business can involve a lot of long days and sleepless nights. In fact it can be all consuming. There’re never enough hours in the day! But what if there was something you could do that would support you and help you be more effective in your business? What if you could reduce your stress levels and be just as successful and productive?

You might be surprised to hear I’m talking about yoga!

Evan Williams (co-founder of Twitter), Jeff Weiner (CEO LinkedIn), Russell Simmons (co-founder of Def Jam Records) and even Oprah Winfrey and Steve Jobs have all credited yoga with making them better at what they do.

Yoga has many benefits including building strength and flexibility, improving muscle tone and definition and improving circulation. It boosts energy levels, stamina and the immune system. It can help with back pain and stiffness, tummy troubles and can even help with losing weight. It helps us sleep better, relax more, stress less and feel happier. It helps us focus, gives us perspective and creates space in our minds to let creative thoughts bubble up to the surface.

Yoga Article

Success in business is all about the choices we make. When we slow down, move the body and breath we turn down the volume of the noise in our minds. In turn this helps us think more clearly, make better decisions and deal more skillfully with challenges as they come up.

We learn a lot about ourselves when trying to do yoga. What happens when we can’t reach where we think we should? What happens when we come across something that feels like it will always be impossible? Yoga teaches us that persistence pays off – the more diligent you are in your practice, the more accomplished you’ll become. No short cuts, no “hacks”, just each valuable step along the way. And regular yoga practice will help you see that you’re capable of much more than you think!

Everybody can do yoga, even you! If you can’t touch your toes, don’t despair. Getting started is easy. Find a class that fits with your schedule and a teacher you like, that way you’re more likely to keep going. Consistency’s the key – just keep turning up and yoga will do the rest.

It’s easy to believe we don’t have the time to do yoga because we’re so busy with our businesses and our lives. I guarantee you’ll feel fitter, calmer, more inspired, happier – just all round better – after yoga. Imagine taking all that good stuff and feeding it back into your business.
Instagram: Merchant City Yoga

Over the last few months, SIE have been supporting the Sports Innovation Challenge; an exciting new start-up competition for students and recent graduates who have a passion for sport. Our Enterprise Assistant, Matthew Gardiner, explains more about the challenge and SIE’S involvement.

I’ve been delighted to have been involved in the launch of the Sports Innovation Challenge over these past two months along with the rest of the SIE team. Our Interns have assisted with the marketing activities to promote the competition to fellow students and the Innovation and Enterprise team was tasked with creating a new sports-themed ideas lab.

My first task was to ensure the successful completion of a video project that would form the core of a new idea generation workshop. In terms of design, the video was to depict the experiences of sport and exercise through the perspective of two pairs of young adults – both male and female – as well as a mature married couple. It was fitting – given that the challenge itself is underpinned by research from the University of Stirling – that the video opens with an introduction by Professor John Taylor who does an excellent job setting the context. All in all, the experience developing this video was immensely rewarding and I’m thankful to everyone involved.

When the video was in place, the ideas lab quickly began to take shape and within one week we were confident enough to trial it at Queen Margaret University and University of the West of Scotland. The results of the new workshop were nothing short of outstanding with students producing many high quality ideas. Subsequent workshops in Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, Inverness and Stirling have continued to yield similar, very encouraging outcomes.

Having had the pleasure of working with these students first-hand, I think it is safe to say that competition’s judges have an unenviable task in selecting the top three entries.

The Sports Innovation Challenge is still open for entries so be sure to visit the website in order to submit your sports-related start-up idea.
Sports Challeneg

Sports Challenge 2 With special thanks to:

David Sherman (Sporting Chance)

Ryan Carenduff (Sporting Chance)

Kyle Murdoch (Fatbuzz Ltd)

Professor John Taylor (University of Stirling)

Liz McKenzie

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