A new brand of vodka, a gift shop for cat and dog lovers and a mead brewery are among businesses set up by Armed Forces veterans in Scotland being showcased during Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney met and heard the stories of ex-service personnel who have set up in business since re-entering civilian life.

Supported by X Forces – a social enterprise that nurtures entrepreneurial ambition in the UK military community – the businesses are delivering innovative products and providing new career opportunities for veterans.

Mr Swinney met the group in Edinburgh as part of a range of activities centred around Global Entrepreneurship Week – the world’s largest campaign to promote entrepreneurship.

He said: “Entrepreneurship and innovation lie at the heart of the Scottish economy and are of crucial importance as we work to generate the kind of inclusive growth from which everyone in the country can benefit.

“It is inspiring to meet the men and women who have been supported by X-Forces and find out more about how they have turned their ideas and passions into successful businesses.

“X-Forces do so much hard work to make this happen. This social enterprise has very recently become part of our Scotland CAN DO network, and I look forward to their contribution to Scotland CAN DO’s work to reinforce Scotland’s position as a world-leading entrepreneurial and innovative nation.”

Ren Kapur, CEO, X-Forces, said: “We are delighted to have been invited by the Deputy First Minister to support enterprise and training in Scotland. This is a great opportunity to further establish links with other organisations to provide even more provision to the Armed Forces Community who are starting and growing businesses, creating employment for themselves and others.”

Christopher Mullin’s (40) work in the Intelligence Corps took him all over world. After reaching his goals within the Armed Forces, he returned home to Kirkmichael in Perthshire and started The Rookery – a business culminating from his twenty year hobby of making mead.

He said: “One day I had a pipe-dream to set up a micro-brewery. It was a bit of a mad-cap idea, but I have been overjoyed by the number of people who have said how well it suits me. With the support of X-forces I hope the business will continue to establish itself and grow.”

Chris Gillan (34) served three operational tours in the Middle East, two tours of Iraq and a third tour in Helmand Province, training the Afghan National Police, before he was discharged from the RAF through injury.

He set up Heroes Drinks Company in Edinburgh, which pledges twenty per cent of its profits to Forces and Veterans Charities and aims, where possible, to employ Military Veterans, including those with service-related disabilities.

He said: “Heroes Drinks is growing at a pace I could never have imagined at the outset. The X-Forces service has been fundamental in understanding my needs and offering planning, finance and mentoring, which has been extremely valuable to an ex-serviceman like myself and we are honoured to have been awarded Scotland’s Start Up Company of the Year 2014, by company Chairman and former Dragons Den panellist, James Caan.”

Notes to Editors

About X-Forces:

X-Forces is a social enterprise that nurtures entrepreneurial ambition in the UK military community, supporting start-up businesses and delivering innovative career opportunities.

The over-riding ambition is to provide sustainable and exciting careers through enterprise and employment that provide job-satisfaction and security, and in tandem benefit the economy now and into the future. X-Forces’ support extends to service leavers, veterans, reservists, spouses, dependants and cadets (over 18).

Since its launch in July 2013, X-Forces has helped to launch 466 new entrepreneurs, to whom £4,913,200 in seed funding has been lent (correct at 19.11.2015), as an official partner of the government’s Start Up Loans Company.

The MoD has appointed X-Forces as the Business Enterprise Trainer for the Career Transition Partnership, delivering support and training to those expressing an interest in business ownership and self-employment.

X-Forces is patroned by Lord Addington.

Additional information can be found at www.x-forces.com.

Business Links:

Christopher Mullin, The Rookery Craft Mead, www.rookery.scot

Chris Gillan, Heroes Drinks, www.heroesvodka.co.uk

For further information, please contact:

Anna Oliver | tel: 07974 680069 | anna.oliver@x-forces.com

X-Forces contact details:

www.X-Forces.com | tel. 0207 022 0600 | @OfficialXforces |www.facebook.com/xforces