Glasgow Unveiled As New Home Of Britain’s Biggest High Street Business Challenge

December 21, 2015

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 • TestTown challenge will see 12 new-start-ups from across the UK and Ireland descend on Glasgow’s historic Saltmarket to compete

• Winner will receive ‘UK entrepreneur of the year’ crown and £10k in business startup funding

Britain’s biggest regeneration and enterprise challenge, TestTown, which aims to create a new wave of responsible business owners whilst simultaneously lowering unemployment, is officially coming to Glasgow’s Saltmarket in February 2016.

The deal to bring TestTown to Scotland’s biggest city was struck between the organiser of the challenge, the Carnegie UK Trust, and Glasgow City Council.

The challenge will see entrepreneurs running 12 startup businesses from across the UK and Ireland showcase their trade in vacant shops and spaces in the City’s Saltmarket area. They will be competing for the title of ‘UK Towns Entrepreneur of the Year’, as well as a £10,000 investment for their business idea.

Two of the start-up finalists are from Scotland – an aerial acrobatics company from Perth and a cake making business from Falkirk.

The TestTown regeneration challenge has become the UK and Ireland’s biggest accelerator programme for young entrepreneurs with fresh ideas for rejuvenating the country’s town centres.  In the last two years, TestTown has helped inject over £250,000 into 100 start-ups and supported more than 200 entrepreneurs.

Jim Metcalfe, TestTown Programme Leader at the Carnegie UK Trust, said: “Conditions are still tough for town economies across the country, and young people are particularly affected. TestTown is all about helping people to harness entrepreneurial flare at the local level. It provides an opportunity to connect town centre entrepreneurs with the challenges facing the high street, making them real partners and contributors to improving local communities.”

The city’s Saltmarket area was at one point the main thoroughfare of Glasgow and acted as a popular shopping district made-up of independent retailers. Glasgow City Council recently announced its commitment via the City Centre Strategy to regenerate the area which includes vacant shop units being offered to Glasgow-based start-ups in a bid to boost local business. A pilot support project, the Independent Retail Fund, to assist current tenants with the upkeep of their premises has also been introduced.

It is hoped that the TestTown regeneration challenge will also go some way to helping bring the area back to its former glory.

Jim Metcalfe, continued: “Glasgow is a real entrepreneurial hub and the focus on reinvigorating the Saltmarket area to help support start-ups provides the perfect platform in which to challenge our TestTown finalists. We hope that lots of people will come out to support the challenge!”

Between July and November 2015, the TestTown competition has seen 10 towns from across the UK host an enterprise challenge in town centre spaces, with each challenge tailored to local economic needs. Challenges have included a pop-up youth enterprise market in Bridgend, Wales, green enterprise training and mentoring in Walthamstow, London, and a master crafts training session for unemployed 18-30 year olds in Enniscorthy, Ireland. Business training and coaching workshops for young musicians, performers and artists in Great Yarmouth provided the young people with the knowledge to turn their talents into business opportunities.

Councillor Frank McAveety, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “I am delighted that the final of TestTown will be held in Glasgow, and I am sure that at the end of February we will have seen some fantastic ideas to regenerate town and city centres across the UK.

“The Saltmarket is the ideal location for the final of TestTown, being an area of Glasgow city centre on the cusp of regeneration and with fantastic potential, and we would look forward to working with the Carnegie UK Trust on this exciting project.  TestTown shares many of the ambitions behind our own city centre strategy.”

The full list of host towns involved in the TestTown 2015 challenge include: Walthamstow, Ellesmere Port, Great Yarmouth, Huddersfield and Heanor in England, Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland, Falkirk and Perth in Scotland,  Bridgend in Wales and Enniscorthy in Ireland (the first time that TestTown will have had a presence in the Republic of Ireland).

Ahead of the challenge getting underway in July, towns throughout the country applied to demonstrate how they could benefit from being involved in TestTown. Each town has received £3,000 to run their skills development activity and invest in local entrepreneurship.

More on TestTown can be found here:  Follow the progress on Twitter and join in the town centre debate @TestTown2015.


For Carnegie UK Trust media enquiries, please contact Kirsty Anderson or Billy Partridge at Grayling on 0131 226 2363 or [email protected]


For enquiries relating to the Salmarket venue, please contact Glasgow City Council: Paul Kane, 0141 287 5387, [email protected]