LESL launches start up challenge to celebrate 25th anniversary

Marking 25 years of supporting business growth in Scotland, LESL today launched the Enterprise Challenge 2013, a competition to find Scotland's next big start up.

The competition is aimed at entrepreneurs with a business plan already at an advanced stage and ready to build a viable business quickly and effectively.  Open to any start up or young business that has the capacity for rapid growth, the focus is not necessarily on a new or innovative technology but on the best business model and prospects for success.

Ronnie Smith, CEO of LESL, explains: "The future of the Scottish economy relies on a new generation of start up businesses that can develop and grow, creating new products, services and jobs.  Our goal for The Enterprise Challenge is to encourage new business ventures, get them market ready, resourced, funded and ready to go!"

The challenge will be officially launched by Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Energy, Enterprise & Tourism, on 1 May 2013 at the Alba Innovation Centre in Livingston, Scottish Enterprise's incubator for early stage technology companies.

Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, Fergus Ewing said:

"Encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship throughout Scotland is a key priority for the Scottish Government and we are supportive of steps, such as those being taken by LESL, to encourage new business growth.  I am delighted that LESL have chosen to mark their 25th Anniversary by launching this exciting Enterprise Challenge. This competition will provide an exciting opportunity for start up companies to have their ideas supported and encouraged and will hopefully generate positive returns for Scotland's economy in years to come."

Marian Gardiner, Group Operations Director for LESL, added:  "Over the past 25 years at LESL we have helped countless start ups and supported some great businesses to grow. As a result we've built up a wealth of experience and resources.  We now want to celebrate our track record for growing successful businesses by doing what we do best and help to turn good business plans into profitable businesses."

The judging panel will comprise a team of high profile and successful entrepreneurs with a strong history of achievement, who will provide practical advice and screening, select the best entries and help the winner on the road to success.

The prize will include a minimum six month rent-free period in one of the three business incubators managed by LESL; including Alba Innovation Centre, Hillington Park and the Atrium Incubation and Innovation Centre.  This will be supplemented by a full business support package with expert mentoring and specialist business advice, introductions to potential sales routes, free business software and hardware, and free legal, financial and HR advice.

There will also be special access and fast track pathways to potential loan and investment funds for the winning entries.

For details of how to enter The Enterprise Challenge visit http://www.lesl.org/tec/. The deadline for entries is 30 May and winners will be announced on 28 June.

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