Resources  ·  Posted June 10, 2024

Bridging Communities Event Report

Trust, collaboration, change: Three (not so) simple steps to uniting Scotland’s business ecosystem.

Written by Anna Brow, Bridging Communities Host & Facilitator

What could we achieve if our business communities came together, setting aside preconceived ideas to share frustrations and explore new approaches to old problems?

That’s what Helen Denny, The Melting Pot CEO, and I asked ourselves in 2022 when we first met to discuss how we could bring together our increasingly dispersed communities. 

Download the full event report here

The Bridging Communities delivery team (L-R) Anna Brow, Susanne Mueller, Jess Gildener & CEO Helen Denny

I’ve written about the motivation behind Bridging Communities 1.0: the frustration we felt seeing the same faces at each networking event, and hearing different sectors and industries discuss similar problems yet never reaching out of their established communities to search for new approaches. Born initially as a collaboration between The Melting Pot and Startup Grind Scotland and quickly expanding to include dozens more, we wanted to see what would happen if we brought our networks together. 

To our surprise – and delight! – we met sold-out event after sold-out event in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Clearly, we weren’t the only ones frustrated by the siloed entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

The only logical next question was: could we scale up our hypothesis to other cities, and a national event?

In November 2023, we were delighted to receive funding from the Scottish Government’s Ecosystem Fund, offering us a chance to do just that. 

What Bridging Communities set out to achieve

At the heart of Bridging Communities is our commitment to promoting an inclusive and collaborative entrepreneurial community. 

The aims and objectives of this unique event series were: 

Test the scalability of our format. Bringing siloed communities together isn’t a unique idea! What sets Bridging Communities apart is our format. As a networking event in disguise, we use speakers from our community to set the tone before facilitating discussions amongst our audience. 

Build connections, conversations and new collaborations. Through our format, we hoped to help our audience meet new people and discover shared goals and challenges. We wanted to provide the space for ideas to grow and partnerships to form, paving the way for new solutions to old problems.

Enhance our local and national business ecosystem. While our roots are in Edinburgh, our vision extends across Scotland. By hosting events in multiple cities, we sought to strengthen both local and national business ecosystems. 

What we did

In early 2024, we took Bridging Communities on the road to Inverness and Dumfries & Galloway, and then held a one-day national conference — Bridging Communities, the Extended Edition — in Edinburgh to see if the format could work across a full day’s activities. 

We were delighted to get incredible buy-in from communities and individuals nationwide. In total, we built connections with 33 community groups and hosted almost 350 people across five different events. We facilitated essential conversations centred on empowerment, trust, collaboration and change – themes all central to a well-connected and thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

We also heard our audience’s frustrations with Scotland’s national and local business support networks. Together, we laid the foundations for repairing fractured relationships between sectors and considered how we could build new approaches together to serve a more healthy and connected ecosystem. 

Most importantly, we heard from our audience that they want space to turn these new partnerships into real action. People are ready to take the ideas generated by Bridging Communities to dig deeper, support each other and take action together – they just need the space to do so. 

What’s next?

Our goal has always been to promote a more inclusive and collaborative entrepreneurial environment in Scotland. With the success of Bridging Communities, it’s clear that there is an appetite across Scotland to connect locally and nationally on shared issues concerning the entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

The next step is to turn this energy into action. Bridging Communities was about creating a space for diverse communities to meet and form bonds for the first time. Our next task is to develop these connections into actionable collaborations. 

Bridging Communities 1.0 was about meeting and connecting; Bridging Communities 2.0 will be about creating and doing.

We’re going to build on the momentum we’ve generated and establish ongoing opportunities for collaboration. We want to facilitate projects, initiatives and partnerships that drive real positive change and innovation. We want to continue bridging the gaps between Scotland’s diverse business communities by fostering an environment where ideas can be transformed into tangible outcomes.

Through continued engagement, support, and collaboration, we can create a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem that benefits everyone involved. Bridging Communities 1.0 laid the foundations—now, it’s time to build upon them and make a lasting impact.

Bridging Communities event report

Want to be involved in shaping Bridging Communities 2.0? We’d love to hear from you.


Bridging Communities was funded by the Scottish Government’s Ecosystem Fund.

Thanks also to all our fantastic partners who have collaborated on this project in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, and Dumfries & Galloway, and to all the speakers who have generously shared their time and wisdom.