Grow Global

Specifications for Business Development Support Services

Defining the international growth support consulting and training services for Scottish businesses that will be delivered through

Digital Scotland will recruit a network of partners to deliver Grow Global Consulting Services.

The specification of these services will initially be defined in response to a number of RFPs:

Economic Strategy

All of these RFPs are intended to provide support services to startup and grow businesses, to boost Scotland’s economy.

The Edinburgh RFP provides an overview of the broader economic strategy the services are intended to stimulate and support, and how the contract is delivered across multiple local authorities, covering City of Edinburgh, Midlothian, West and East Lothian Councils, with it being led by Edinburgh as the central purchasing body.

The combined Local Authority areas have an estimated population of 912,490 (2020), with 32,145 registered enterprises sustaining over 350,000 jobs., and the four Local Authorities recognise that entrepreneurship and a strong SME base are crucial to the development of a vibrant and successful local economy, and that creating a stronger entrepreneurial base is a vital component of a successful economy, as is increasing the number of knowledge-based businesses higher-value key sectors.

Key goals include:

  • To become Scotland’s most sustainable and digitally-connected local economy.
  • Increase the number of businesses with growth potential.
  • To be the best connected place in Scotland to set up and grow an innovative business.
  • Provide high quality employment pathways and increase the number of people helped into work, learning or training through Edinburgh Guarantee For All and funded employability programmes;
  • Supporting the launch of new programmes to help businesses thrive in a net zero economy, including proposals for a new Green Innovation Challenge Fund.
  • To be Scotland’s leading coastal, leisure and food & drink destination;


Services Model

The Business Gateway key service areas delivered by Local Authorities are:

  • Start-up Services including pre-start and early stage growth; The Start-Up Service covers pre-start, start-up/early stage business support and includes both one to one advisory support and one to many services (workshops/webinars and web tools)
  • Growth Service. Available to existing businesses, makes nominated one-to-one advisor support available to the customer to help them achieve their growth or recovery objectives.

This is achieved through the following main streams of services:

  1. Workshops and Training.
  2. Advisory Service.
  3. Digital Boost.
  4. Marketing Support.
  5. Administration Support.

Services are packaged together and delivered through three contract lots:

  • Lot One: One to Many Workshops, One to Few Coaching Sessions and One to One Surgeries – Delivery of General Business Start-up and Early stage growth workshops, coaching sessions and surgery style events to SME’s in Edinburgh & Lothian Region;
  • Lot Two: DigitalBoost – Delivery of Digital Coaching Sessions & 121 Expert help to SMEs in Edinburgh & Lothian Region; and
  • Lot Three: Specialist Business Support – Delivery of a growth programme of support of Edinburgh SME’s aiming to grow their business and trade internationally.

i. Workshops and Training

  1. Providers will be expected to develop and deliver a range of workshops, coaching sessions and surgeries targeted at pre-start, start-up and existing businesses.
  2. It is anticipated the sessions will cover areas such as start-up, growth, strategy, marketing, operations, finance, sustainability, accessibility and exporting, however the topics of these sessions will be flexible based on complimenting the nationally delivered Business Gateway and Digital boost webinar programmes, the local priorities for the Local Authority group and the changing business landscape. It is anticipated that the Provider will be pro-active in their approach to identifying required topics for inclusion.
  3. Anticipated duration for these sessions is 3 hours and attendance for workshops is 15 and 8 for coaching sessions. It is expected that coaching sessions are more collaborative (between attendees), practical and informal in delivery. Once a set of learning objectives has been created and approved by the individual Local Authorities the Provider must develop appropriate workshop content and materials to help customers achieve the learning objectives.
  4. In addition to the workshops described above, the Provider is expected to develop and deliver additional series of surgery-style one to one expert advice clinics covering specific needs of clients in Edinburgh and Lothians. The anticipated duration of these sessions is 3 hours, with 45 minutes allocated per client (4
    clients total).

The Workshops and coaching sessions will complement the Business Gateway National workshop offering while ensuring that a local offering and direct connection with local businesses is retained.

ii. Advisory Service

  1. The Start-Up Advisory Service covers both pre-start and start-up/early stage support.
  2. The advisory services (one-to-one support) will tend to be heavily focused on those higher value start-up businesses, with the support of Business Gateway, of employing staff and/or achieving turnover levels of over £70,000 within 12-18 months of starting to trade. The advisor support will help the customer achieve their growth objectives and aspirations.
  3. For start-up businesses not expected to employ staff or meet the turnover level outlined above, the support will comprise of at least two meetings but may predominantly be through the Business Gateway web site – the Business Gateway Enquiry Service and referrals to other services.

Accredited Advisors

  1. The Business Advisors are expected to have a recognised accreditation. The current accreditation standard is “Premier Advisor” which is underpinned by the Institute of Leadership and Management Diploma in Business Advice & Counseling. This standard is currently being updated and will be replaced with a similar national standard.
  2. All Business Advisers providing advice on behalf of Business Gateway must possess either the current “Premier Adviser” accreditation or the The Diploma in Business Advice & Support at SCQF Level 8 new standard. All Trainers must have experience in the specialist field that they will be delivering training on.

Specialist Business Support

The services will include:

  • Specialist Programmes – these will include multi-session programmes of specialist support covering areas such as equity investment (Gateway to Investment Programme), Women in Business (Women in Business Growth Programme) and other sector or demographic specific programme as may be required;
  • Expert Help “Lite” sessions – these will be one-to-one surgery style sessions with the Provider’s specialist trainer lasting for a half day (3.5 hours), with three individual clients expected to meet with the trainer within that time for up to one hour each.
  • Expert Help sessions – these will provide clients with one-to-one specialist trainer support lasting for up to three days (up to 21 hours in total), which can include both client facing time and time to work on actions or solutions on behalf of the client.

The expert help sessions are expected to support clients with a range of advice and support under the following headings:

  • Digital technology (e.g. e-commerce systems, social media marketing);
  • Business strategy (e.g. business planning, market research);
  • HR (e.g. setting up HR systems, employing staff);
  • Exporting and international sales (e.g. international market information, entering new
  • PR (e.g. drafting press releases, branding);
  • Innovation (inc. product development);
  • Finance (inc. equity investment); and
  • Sustainability.

Heriot Watt

The Heriot Watt RFP is also seeking sales and business development training support for startups, under the umbrella of the Converge Challenge.

The application numbers have grown significantly over the last 11 years and since 2022 the programme offers training to approximately 100 participants per year with predicted further increase in the coming years. High quality of business training is a key USP for the programme. The emphasis of the training is on practical skills and focused on business development and market engagement from early stage to investment readiness.

The scope of the training covers delivery of:

  • Converge 3-day (or online equivalent) entrepreneurial development training for Converge Challenge, Create Change Challenge and Net Zero Challenge participants (approx. 50 projects) and 2.5 days training (or online equivalent) for Converge Kickstart Challenge (approx. 50 projects). A mixture of on-demand (digital) knowledge transfer, live online and face-to-face elements would be preferred.
  • Converge business development session with a focus on financial planning training (0.5 day for approx. 50 participants)
  • Route to market training for Converge Challenge, Create Change Challenge and Net Zero Challenge finalists (1 day, 16 participants)
  • Post final 1-2-1 progress report meetings with winners. (3 meetings within 12 months from the Converge final with approximately 7 winners).

The Trainer should cover the following points:

  • Elevator pitch training. Converge participants are required to deliver a 1-minute pitch to an audience as part of the training. The pitch is timed and is aimed at potential funders, investors and team members.
  • General business plan content. Converge/Create Change/Net Zero Challenge participants are required to submit an 8-page business plan with financial forecast and 1-minute video pitch. Therefore they would need to be provided with training enabling them to complete these requirements. The Kickstart participants have to complete a 5-page business case and 1 minute video pitch and need to be provided with information enabling them to do so.
  • Practical advice for the Converge participants regarding the spin-out process from a university, team building and other relevant subjects.

iii. Digital Boost

The key purpose of the DigitalBoost Programme is to strengthen the knowledge and skills of SMEs in Scotland about digital technology, thus enabling them to enter new markets, trade internationally, increase business efficiency and (potentially) increase staff employed.

The DigitalBoost programme will continue to offer the following services for small to medium

  • online digital health check;
  • online guides;
  • webinars – previously face to face workshops, but now online sessions lasting up to 2 hours
    that are participative for the delegates;
  • online coaching sessions (for up to 7 delegates who are tackling the same digital task simultaneously) which build on the delegate’s understanding and how it affects their business; highlighting potential areas for improvement; signposting delegates to further support that helps build their digital capability, along with a few identified next steps to implement.
  • online 1-2-1 surgeries – 30 to 60 minute sessions for specific questions to be address with a particular client; Groups of up to 7 delegates will work together during the online session to carry out a specific digital task (e.g. setting up a website, improving their Search Engine Optimisation, creating a social media account or optimising a social media account).
  • one-to-one specialist support This will comprise up to 21 hours of specialist support on an agreed digital topic. This service will give direct assistance to SMEs (referred by a Business Gateway Adviser) through 1-2-1 support and consultancy to raise their skills and knowledge levels so they adopt and optimise the use of
    digital technology.

The programme will contribute towards several of the high-level objectives set out in Scotland’s Digital Future – A Strategy for Scotland:

  • Strengthening the breadth and depth of support offered to companies of all sizes; and
  • Extending the reach of support for digital projects, concentrating on building skills and capabilities that increase digital maturity in SME’s.

iv. Marketing

In addition to providing these services, Providers will be expected to support Local Authority Contract Manager by:

  • Contributing to local marketing activities and register on the Business Gateway Marketing Toolkit to maintain awareness of marketing activity and brand updates;
  • Participating in local and nationally organised promotional and networking events;
  • Providing input to future online and other services; and
  • Providing a seamless link between Business Gateway national and local services with other business-facing Local Authority services.

An effective marketing strategy and its implementation through a partnership between the BGNU, the Local Authorities and Providers will be a crucial element of the successful delivery of Business Gateway services. It will have three objectives:

  • to raise the level of awareness and interest in the Business Gateway brand;
  • to promote specific services to priority and target markets; and
  • to generate leads for each element of the Business Gateway offering.

v. Administration Support

The Provider must provide a named contact who will act as a single point of contact to liaise with the Business Gateway Contract Manager and the four Local Authorities to:

  • Ensure partnership working with the four Local Authorities;
  • Develop and agree the Operating Plan for the delivery of workshops and surgeries across the contract area; and
  • Provide and manage the trainers required to deliver the workshops and surgeries.

The Provider must also provide a single point of contact to liaise between the trainers and the Business Gateway central administration team.

Business Information Officer

The successful contractor must also supply a Business Information Officer (BIO) for 24.5 hours per week. Responsibilities will include:

    1. Updating the CRM
    2. General administration
    3. Answering phones
    4. Making and confirming appointments.


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