It goes without saying that the North-east is going through one of its most turbulent times in recent history, as the oil and gas sector faces major global challenges and a plummeting oil price. The impact on business and people in the region is clear. At Elevator, however, we are seeing a dramatic uplift in the number of new business start-ups beginning to feed through. It took a while to kick-in, but 2016 will go down as the year that large numbers of people, many previously employed in oil and gas, looked to start a new venture as a viable alternative option for their future.
The North-east has always punched well above its weight in terms of entrepreneurial activity; in fact, national statistics show that the region is the most entrepreneurial is Scotland. I don’t think we should be surprised by this – the oil and gas sector in this area grew from very little only a few decades ago into what would now be recognised as a huge surge of entrepreneurial effort. In many ways, that spirit is still here, as evidenced by recent start-up numbers – one could say it’s in the regional DNA.
It’s this ‘can-do’ attitude and entrepreneurial spirit that brought about the seed of an idea by Elevator and Scottish Enterprise (SE) to reach out to senior executives from the oil and gas sector who would be interested in using their skills and expertise to form teams capable of launching significant new ventures. That seed has grown into an initiative which we aim to launch early in 2017.
Grey Matters is a new six-month programme, which will take place at our Aberdeen-based Centre for Entrepreneurship and will target experienced senior executives who are either currently redundant or at risk of redundancy. In the first instance, we will be looking to recruit a cohort of between 15 and 20 individuals with a range of skills.
The programme, which will be free, will cover subjects including business planning, globalisation, marketing, fund-raising, team management and intellectual property, and will encourage collaboration both within the cohort and with external partners – the ultimate aim being to encourage the formation of cohesive, highly-skilled teams which will, in turn, assist and facilitate the creation of high-growth oil and gas businesses.
A great emphasis of the programme will be placed on networking, and Elevator will be looking to engage the cohort with local and global experts and mentors. While the new programme will relate to Elevator’s hugely successful Accelerator Programme – which is just about to recruit Founders for its fifth cohort – it won’t be as intense. The Accelerator is a short and deep level of engagement, while the new programme will be over a longer period, but will require regular participation and commitment from the teams.
We’ll be recruiting early in the new year, with a view to starting the programme as soon thereafter as we can make it happen. In the meantime, watch this space…
Those interested in keeping informed of the progress of the Grey Matters Programme as it develops should visit www.elevatoruk.com.
Graham Morgan is deputy CEO of Elevator. Elevator is sponsoring Energy Voice’s ‘Life after Oil’ campaign. Read more here.