Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) chief executive Carolyn Currie has taken up the role, with the appointment aiming to strengthen the university’s culture of entrepreneurship, encouraging and supporting more staff, students and graduates to start their own businesses.
It also seeks to help fulfil QMU’s goal of becoming a leading centre of excellence for female entrepreneurship, and catalyse its ambitions to establish a Women’s Business Centre, a proposed physical site in QMU’s planned Innovation Hub, which will be part of the Edinburgh Innovation Park.
Ms Currie will lead on the empowerment and education of women who have the potential to develop as successful entrepreneurs, and encourage them to achieve their full potential.
She said: “I am delighted to take up this post and to support the next generation of strong, entrepreneurial women at QMU. We have a huge opportunity to harness the research and innovation work under way and create exciting new businesses to power the Scottish economy. Already women across Scotland have benefited from the digital womensbusinesscentre.com and I look forward to building on this pioneering work with QMU.”
The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship – the work of the now-chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) – found that up to £250 billion could be added to the UK economy if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as UK men.
Kim Stuart, director of research and innovation at the Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Unit at QMU, commented: “We know that women do not lack ability or ambition, yet only one in three UK entrepreneurs is female: a gender gap equivalent to 1.1 million of missing business.”
She added that male-led smaller firms are five times more likely to scale up to £1 million turnover than their female equivalents. “It is imperative that we tackle the gender divide – and inspire, motivative, and equip women to realise their potential, by removing barriers and pro-actively nurturing talent.
"Already, nearly two thirds of QMU’s start-up companies are created by women, and we aim to lead the way in promoting women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship.”
The university’s principal Sir Paul Grice, said: “QMU has a proud history of supporting educational and career opportunities for women dating back to 1875, so is delighted that Carolyn has accepted the position of our first Entrepreneur in Residence. Not only will she be an exceptional role model for our students, graduates and staff, she will be integral in raising [our] profile as a champion of women’s entrepreneurship, and a driving force for post-pandemic economic recovery.”
Ms Currie has enjoyed an extensive career at a senior level in financial services, holding roles such as head of women in business at RBS where she co-designed, launched and expanded the women in business proposition, and she was the first woman to be head of business lending.
She is also a founding member of the UK Women’s Enterprise Policy Group, a member of the T20 (the think-tank aligned to the G20), and currently sits on the strategic advisory board of the University of Glasgow’s Adam Smith Business School, for example.