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Business innovation supported in Highlands and Islands

13 February 2014

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is supporting businesses across the region to deliver new innovations with a business support programme.

The Innovate Your Business initiative has been launched in Moray by HIE with the support of Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth John Swinney.

The pilot programme will help existing businesses of all sizes deliver new ideas to improve their performance or develop new products and services. There are four parts to the programme which are focused on meeting the specific needs of a business: an innovation enquiry service; innovation clinics; specialist support and a small innovation grant scheme.

Cabinet Secretary for Finance John Swinney said: “Scotland is a country with a proud tradition of innovation, and the Scottish Government is committed to delivering support to businesses across the country to help them unlock their economic potential.

“The Innovate Your Business initiative will help ambitious businesses in the Highlands to expand, creating jobs and boosting growth in Scotland’s economy.

“Programmes like this - delivered at a local level and providing a range of tailored services to growing businesses – play a key role in our plans to promote innovation and re-balance Scotland’s economy, as outlined in Scotland’s Future.”

HIE is investing £350,000 in the 18 month project to support the region’s companies. The package includes £140,000 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Alex Paterson, HIE Chief Executive, said: “Providing the right support at the right time can be an important part of making a great idea a reality. Many businesses HIE already works with value the region’s can-do attitude to innovation and the range of support we can offer. This new programme is designed to extend this support to the wider business base, drawing in more small to medium businesses with ambition.”

This programme will build on the success of HIE’s current innovation support products such as: the innovation voucher scheme, which offers incentives for business to work with universities; academic liaison through Interface Highlands and Islands; intellectual assets support and signposting to funds such as Smart Scotland.

The launch took place at the office of Biomatrix, a firm based at Horizon Scotland at the Forres Enterprise Park in Moray. Biomatrix is a technology led business who have invested heavily in research and development, supported by HIE. The business provides innovative ecological solutions for water treatment and recycling systems and has a growing global reputation for innovative solutions having undertaken projects in the USA, Philippines and the UK.

Galen Fulford, Managing Director, of Biomatrix, said: "Water is one of the most important, and precious things on earth but today the pressures of agriculture industry and urbanisation endanger over half of the world’s fresh water systems."

"At Biomatrix we had an idea to provide an innovative, efficient and economical solution to solve large scale water problems. With the support of HIE we are investing in bringing this idea from concept to reality and our floating ecosystems are now improving water quality benefiting project’s ranging from Europe to Asia and the USA. "

HIE development manager, John MacKenzie, concluded: “We want to support as many businesses and social enterprises as possible to innovate in the region. Whether that is a small change within their business to improve efficiency or research work creating a new product, we can offer an assessment, guidance on a strategy and financial support.”

Further details on the project are available on our Innovate Your Business programme page

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