World Whisky Day inventor scoops national innovation award

World Whisky Day inventor scoops national innovation award

The University of Aberdeen graduate who invented World Whisky Day has been awarded £50,000 in business funding after winning a national innovation competition.

Blair Bowman won the Young Innovators Challenge (YIC) award at the awards dinner in Glasgow on Thursday.

Blair, who graduated with a degree in Hispanic Studies from the University last week impressed the judges with his business plan and fought off strong competition from finalists, including another three from the north of Scotland, to be one of five to claim £50,000 business funding and one year of dedicated business support.

Blair said: “I can’t believe it. The timing is perfect, coming exactly a week after my graduation. I’m planning to use the business funding to ramp up marketing and spread the word about World Whisky Day even further!

“I really enjoyed being part of the YIC and I’m delighted to pick up the award. It’s been a great competition to be involved in.

“The advice and support I’ve received already has been invaluable, and I’m looking forward to learning even more in the year to come.”

The finalists all took part in a series of challenges in the run up to the awards night, including the YIC Bootcamp at the Apex Hotel in Dundee, where they were given valuable support and advice from industry experts.

The Young Innovators Challenge - run by Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE) on behalf of the Scottish Government - is a national competition which encourages 18 to 24-year-olds to develop their entrepreneurial skills and understand the processes involved in setting up a business.

Fiona Godsman, chief executive of SIE, said: “Scotland has been home to great innovators for many years, and this year’s competition has shown us that there are young people out there who really are innovators of the future.

“The entries we received showed great ingenuity, and we hope that they will inspire other young people across the country to get thinking about their business ideas.

“We are all really excited to see what the future holds for Blair and the other four young entrepreneurs who have been awarded the prize.”

Fergus Ewing MSP, the minister for energy, enterprise and tourism, said “I wish to offer my congratulations to all of the winners of the inaugural Young Innovators Challenge award and I am particular pleased with the calibre of those candidates shortlisted.

“The Scottish Government is actively encouraging a culture of creativity and entrepreneurship amongst our young innovators.

“The Young Innovators Challenge, which is supported by industry representatives across a number of key sectors, will support the winners in turning their business ideas into reality by providing cash and ‘in kind’ business support and I wish them every success in their future endeavours.” 

Michelle Kinnaird, investment director at the Scottish Investment Bank, said: "We're delighted to have been part of this important programme, helping to encourage young people to become entrepreneurs.

“As one of the three judges I was really impressed by the variety and quality of the finalists and by the enthusiasm and creativity shown by the entire group.

"Events like this are an encouraging indicator of how Scotland can continue to produce innovative growth companies with excellent potential for national and international growth."