At QMU, we have serious plans to lead Scotland’s university sector in advancing female entrepreneurship, and we’re investing time, energy and resource to make it happen!

Recently, we've taken a giant leap forward in our commitment to developing entrepreneurship by appointing our first Entrepreneur in Residence. Carolyn Currie took up the post in August 2021 and it’s been all go ever since!

Carolyn is CEO of Women’s Enterprise Scotland. As a highly respected business leader and champion of female entrepreneurship, her work as QMU’s Entrepreneur in Residence is encouraging more staff, students and graduates to develop their entrepreneurial skills.

Carolyn is also a key player in driving forward the University’s goal to become a leading centre for excellence for female entrepreneurship, and to establish a Women’s Business Centre within our planned Innovation Hub – part of the Edinburgh Innovation Park.

With our strengths in food and drink, and the creative, healthcare and business sectors, Carolyn and QMU aim to strengthen entrepreneurial activity in these fields. Through our ambitious plans to accelerate women’s entrepreneurship at QMU and beyond, we are aiming to support Scotland’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

What we love about Carolyn Currie

  • She’s a prominent champion of female entrepreneurship with an impressive track record in the banking industry.
  • She’s passionate about breaking down barriers and supporting more women to establish sustainable businesses.
  • As CEO of Women’s Enterprise Scotland, she’s committed to addressing the gender imbalance which exists across the Scottish entrepreneurial landscape.
  • As a mover and a shaker, she’s well known and respected in the business community, political circles and public life.
  • Through her workshops, events and interactions with people at QMU, she’s strengthening the University’s culture of entrepreneurship and supporting more staff, students and graduates to develop their entrepreneurial talents.
  • Her inspiring and relevant programme of workshops is helping turn ideas into reality.
  • Her infectious laugh, boundless energy, vast experience and positive attitude make her a tremendous asset and role model.

Know the facts about women-owned businesses

  • Women-owned businesses in Scotland contribute £8.8bn to the Scottish economy every year and generate more than 230,000 jobs across Scotland, according to a 2018 Federation of Small Business report.
  • The Rose Report on Female Entrepreneurship states that up to £250 billion of new value could be added to the UK economy if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men.
  • In response to the Rose Report, the UK Government announced its ambition to increase the number of female entrepreneurs by half by 2039, equivalent to nearly 600,000 additional female entrepreneurs.
  • According to the Rose Report, fewer UK women choose to become entrepreneurs in the UK/Scotland than in some other countries such as Canada, Australia and the Netherlands: The UK lags behind many peer countries on gender parity – for every 10 male UK entrepreneurs, there are fewer than five female entrepreneurs.
  • A recent RBS survey conducted during the pandemic stated that nearly three quarters (71%) of female entrepreneurs found managing their business stressful compared to half of men (55%). Female owners/ entrepreneurs were 17% more likely to have struggled juggling business and family life since the pandemic began than men – 40% compared to 57% - suggesting that women have shouldered more childcare, home schooling and household maintenance responsibility.
    Women are also more likely to be working in sectors that are hard hit by the crisis including hospitality and non-food retail. Supporting women to apply their expertise in starting a business now can help preserve vital skills and build back the economy.

Connecting QMU’s Entrepreneur in Residence to QMU’s history
QMU has a proud history of supporting educational and career opportunities for women dating back to 1875 when the institution was first established. Our founders, Christian Guthrie Wright and Louisa Stevenson, were the female trailblazers of their time - determined to help women advance academically, develop their skills and forge careers. Find out more about QMU’s fascinating history

Why is driving forward female entrepreneurship so important?
Kim Stuart, Director of Research & Innovation and the Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Unit at QMU, explained:

"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 missing businesses. Female-led businesses are only 44% of the size of male-led businesses on average, in terms of their contribution to the economy, and male SMEs are five times more likely to scale up to £1million turnover than female SMEs. It is imperative that we tackle the gender divide and inspire, motive and equip women to realise their potential by removing barriers and pro-actively nurturing talent."

Sir Paul Grice, QMU’s Principal, is behind QMU’s ambitious plans to lead the sector in female entrepreneurship. He said:

"To aid economic recovery from the pandemic, it is critical we harness the talent pool which we know exists within our female population. Carolyn is at the heart of our plans to establish a Women’s Business Centre which will unleash some of the untapped potential within our female population. As a catalyst for supporting female entrepreneurs, we want to encourage and equip women to bring their ideas to fruition and assist female-led businesses to scale up and reach their full potential."

QMU’s Entrepreneurial Fact File

  • Nearly two thirds of QMU’s start-up companies are created by women.
  • QMU was the first university in Scotland to have a Business Gateway located on campus.
  • QMU’s Business Innovation Zone (BIZ) currently supports 45 innovative student, graduate and staff start-ups and businesses.
  • Since its inception, the University’s BIZ has supported 100 entrepreneurial start-ups.

More information on QMU's Entrepreneur in Residence