Chancellor's parting gift challenges Heriot-Watt to scale up enterprise incubator



The outgoing University Chancellor has challenged Heriot-Watt University to become one of the world's top incubators for future entrepreneurs. Dr Robert Buchan and his wife Marie urged the University to think big as they announced their parting gift to Heriot-Watt is to be a new Fund which will boost the creation of Early Stage Businesses.

Speaking to a gathering at the new flagship Global Research, Innovation and Discovery building – GRID – Dr Buchan said “My time at Heriot-Watt has convinced me we have the potential to have a transformative impact on the economy, not only in Scotland but also globally. My wife and I want the University to use our gift and grow the fund quickly to create a truly distinctive innovation eco-structure where international entrepreneurs are created. Together, we will be developing products and solutions that will positively change lives, businesses, communities.”

The Robert M. Buchan Early Stage Business Fund is being established with a gift of $300,000 Canadian dollars (£170,000). The Chancellor made a donation of £1.3m to Heriot-Watt in 2013 to create the position of Chair in Sustainable Engineering, which has been instrumental in making the University a global leader in low-carbon technology. It is intended the University will use this new donation to achieve similar recognition in the world of enterprise.

Congratulating Dr Buchan on his powerful impact at the University, the Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard A. Williams said: “It is appropriate to be here in GRID to welcome Bob and Marie's donation to power our entrepreneurial community. Their support will ensure the great ideas generated here are accelerated into new inventions and transformational products that will continue to change the world and improve the lives of those involved.

“Bob is a true inspiration. He embodies the ethos of the GRID - he is a Heriot-Watt graduate, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist. “

The gift was also welcomed by Deputy Principal for Enterprise and Business Dr Gill Murray, who thanked the Chancellor for his support in promoting entrepreneurial activity across Heriot-Watt. She added “It is also our ambition to work together to grow this Fund as a platform for future philanthropic giving. We will continue to work with Bob and Marie to engage more donors and create an army of philanthropists giving back to the University from the successful businesses and entrepreneurs we create. It is a very exciting and innovative model. “

Speaking of his donation, Dr Buchan said: “I am leaving my position as Chancellor, but I will continue to work with the University to ensure this ambition is turned into a reality. I would encourage students and recent graduates with innovative and commercially viable ideas to apply to the first funding round in 2020.”