At Elevator we’re currently interviewing for the first cohort of the brand new Grey Matters Programme. Suddenly all the planning turns very real as we start to engage one-on-one with our target group – senior oil and gas people with the experience, expertise and ambition to start new high growth businesses in the North-east.
As expected, we find that we’re surrounded by very intelligent, interesting and talented people in Aberdeen. Any notion that there’s a shortage of entrepreneurial spirit here, or that we’re a region that is in any way deflated or demotivated goes straight out the window as soon as we start to meet applicants. Despite all the challenges that the North-east has faced, and continues to face, we find that the predominant discussion is around ‘opportunity’, the need for innovation and new approaches in an oil and gas sector that is actively regrouping.
Now is the perfect time in the region for the launch of a pilot Programme like Grey Matters. There’s a palpable sense of ‘re-emergence’ in the North-east, – at least there’s a sense of the START of something new. As a colleague said recently: “It’s as if people in Aberdeen came back from the Christmas break in January this year and decided that enough was enough. That it was time, despite the many continuing hurdles, to just get on with our lives. Time to get busy again!”
So, Grey Matters is about to kick off with a group of highly experienced people with a superb high-level view of the industry, including a clear view of the many emerging opportunities that we at Elevator, and our partners at Scottish Enterprise, are hopeful will be the catalyst for new businesses creation.
The underlying principle of Grey Matters is that high-growth businesses are better born out of teams rather than being the brain-child of one individual. This speaks to one of the common myths that prevails about entrepreneurs, namely that they are solitary and private beings. In fact, we believe the exact opposite to be true. We believe that entrepreneurs are highly collaborative beings, who love to spend time with other like-minded people. We have seen this throughout the last two years as we have run our highly successful Accelerator Programme at Elevator. One only needs to spend a few minutes in the assembled company of those cohorts to realise that a great deal is gained, by everybody, from sharing ideas, opinions and experience. The noise and buzz that prevails at Elevator is testament to that fact.
Our hope for Grey Matters is to create a sense of place, somewhere that gathers entrepreneurial talent, and then provides that talent with support, encouragement, mentoring and a framework around which new businesses can form.
The starting points for this new Programme could not be more positive; in the wealth of talent that we recognise resides in the North-east, in the strong cultural sense of entrepreneurship that has existed here for decades – since the time when oil was first discovered here – and in the rapid crystallisation of new opportunities, born out of the huge changes to global conditions that have so defined our lives in the North-east in recent times.
Applications are not yet closed for a place on the pilot Grey Matters Programme. The Programme starts on Thursday 4th May 2017. For more information and to apply visit: www.elevatoruk.com</strong>
Graham Morgan is the chief executive of Elevator.