Fewer Scots knew people who had started their own business
Enterprise education in colleges and universities can double the rate of business start-ups, according to Strathclyde University research.
However, the effect of business training in schools shows little sign of feeding through to an improved birth-rate for the Scottish private sector.
The 10th Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Scotland report found that its measure of activity and interest in business start-ups was the second lowest of any part of the UK. Only Yorkshire and Humberside did worse.
It found that many Scots think they could go into business for themselves but few make the leap to become an entrepreneur.
The research found one explanation may be that few Scots knew anyone who could inspire or mentor them.
In a survey for the GEM study, only 20% of Scots knew someone who had set up a business in the previous two years, compared with 30% of Londoners and 43% of those from comparable European countries.
European neighbours are three times more likely than Scots to invest in a friend's or family member's new business.
The annual report, from the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship at Strathclyde, found business training was a key factor in encouraging a better company birth-rate.
Dr Jonathan Levie, co-author of the report, said that made the case for more investment in ensuring students had business included in their courses, and not only in business schools.
He said the lack of any impact from enterprise education in schools may be explained by his survey covering all age groups, so it did not measure the effect of the Determined to Succeed programme used more recently in Scottish schools.
Professor Sara Carter, head of the Hunter Centre, said: "Entrepreneurship education gives students a more competitive edge in the graduate labour market as well as presenting new venture creation as a realistic and, in some cases, essential career option".
Dr Levie suggested the recession could help boost Scotland's low business start-up rate, as skilled people face redundancy from salaried jobs, and have to look to new options.