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History of SIE

What started as a small organisation with big ambitions became a major player in supporting Scotland’s enterprise educators and contributing to new business generation from our students.

SIE is very proud of the role we have played over the last 16 years in creating Scotland’s vital and exciting entrepreneurial ecosystem. Since its inception, SIE has introduced a number of important firsts for Scotland and continues to play a significant role; testing new initiatives and providing a core hub of enterprise activity & support in Scotland for students and educators.

SIE was formally launched in 2000 with funding from the Office of Science and Technology to help five research-based universities boost the commercial potential of university science and technology research. The original partner institutions were: Dundee University, Edinburgh University, Glasgow University, Heriot Watt University and Strathclyde University.


  • 2001: Launch of the first National Business Competition, offering a top prize of £10,000.
  • 2002: Sharon Bamford joins as CEO of SIE.
  • 2002: SIE now working with 13 Scottish Institutions and two associates with SIE Interns in each of them, promoting enterprise.
  • 2002: Launch of £200,000 patent fund. This was the first commercialisation project of it’s kind in Scotland. SIE’s patent fund is still available today as one of our core services.
  • 2003: Sir Alan Langlands, Principal of Dundee University, was succeeded as Chairmain of SIE by Sir Muir Russell, Principal and MVP of Glasgow University.
  • 2004: First National Student Enterprise Summit. This annual event has continued to thrive and is a fixture on the entrepreneurial calendar.
  • 2004: A watershed year that saw all of Scotland’s HEI’s sign up to working with SIE.
  • 2006: Thanks to funding from Scottish Enterprise, SIE introduces four Regional Business Advisors who offer dedicated 1 to 1 help and support to Scottish Students with a business idea.
  • 2007: Sharon Bamford succeeded by James Barlow as CEO, who had started with SIE as a Regional Business Advisor.
  • 2008: First SIE Bootcamp. This was a weeklong residential programme designed to generate viable student-led ventures. In its first year, 400 students applied for 45 places. The Bootcamp model has now been widely adopted in many of our partner institutions.
  • 2008: In recognition of the different stages of businesses that SIE was working with, the Business Plan competition was divided in two, becoming the New Ideas and New Ventures competitions.
  • 2009: Sir Muir Russell was succeeded as the new Chairman of SIE by Sir Timothy O’Shea, Principal of Edinburgh University.

In 2010, Fiona Godsman became the new CEO of the Scottish Institute for Enterprise. Under Fiona’s stewardship, SIE has gone beyond business generation to embrace employability skills and using enterprise to unlock student potential. This continues to be SIE’s approach; making entrepreneurship more accessible to students and embedding enterprising thinking.

The Scottish Government asked SIE to run the first Young Innovators Challenge in 2013. This was a major new national business competition for students with a top prize of £50,000 for winners. This year also saw SIE’s enterprise support activities being open to students and recent graduates in Scotland’s colleges for the first time funded by the Scottish Funding Council.

SIE ran the second Young Innovators Challenge in 2014, focusing on social innovation and encouraging students to enter ideas which will have a positive social impact on Scotland. The competition was a major success with entries increasing by 241%.

SIE has consistently evolved over the last 16 years to best suit the needs of students and educators and the current success could not have happened without the commitment and support of our partners in Scotland’s HEIs. We have over a decade of working closely with educators and partner organisations, and our proven methods and flexible national team make us best-placed to support enterprise initiatives in Scotland.

We are not content to rest on our laurels, and SIE is constantly testing new initiatives, learning from international best practice and sharing and promoting success stories across our network.