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Napier University and Women’s Enterprise Scotland partner for women in business lab

Edinburgh Napier University and Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) have unveiled a new collaboration to support more women into business.

The SDG5 Living Lab will offer tailored training, resources and networking for women looking to start a business, or further their careers.

As well as drawing on the university’s research expertise, it will be supported by entrepreneur in residence and WES Chair Lynne Cadenhead, who made her name as a serial entrepreneur, tech sector leader and investor.

The initiative is designed to advance the fifth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG5) set out by the United Nations in 2015, which is gender equality. SDG5 includes targets to end all forms of discrimination against women, and ensure women have equal rights to economic resources and leadership.

While women-led businesses already contribute £8.8bn to the Scottish economy every year, progress is at risk of stalling. The number of firms led by women declined from 20.6% in 2017 to 14% in 2019, and only nine women-led scale-ups exist in Scotland today.

Delivered by ENU’s enterprise hub, Bright Red Triangle, the first sessions will be held later this month. The initial courses aim to develop participants’ skills around business creation and leadership.

Cadenhead said: “As an Edinburgh Napier graduate, and now a Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence, I’m thrilled to bridge academia and industry, fostering a culture of innovation that empowers women in business.

“The power of education and entrepreneurship will be pivotal in reshaping the narrative for gender equality.

“The SDG5 Living Lab embodies our commitment to driving tangible change for women, by combining research and innovation.

“The training delivered by Women’s Enterprise Scotland is informed by over a decade of research, which means that recipients benefit from world class expertise in the field of women’s entrepreneurship.”

Nick Fannin, head of enterprise at Bright Red Triangle, added: “The establishment of the SDG5 Living Lab marks a significant milestone in our commitment to gender equality and societal impact.

“This collaboration allows us to harness the collective expertise of Edinburgh Napier University and Women’s Enterprise Scotland to drive meaningful change.

“Our vision is to cultivate an environment conducive to entrepreneurial success among women, nurturing the next generation of women leaders and innovators.“

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