Businesses across the Highlands and Islands are to benefit from significant financial assistance being delivered in a partnership between Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Comunn na Gàidhlig (CnaG).
Three schemes, being launched today (20 January) will see more than £145,000 being awarded to business or organisations who submit successful applications.
The schemes are focussed on supporting: "marketing and new markets using Gaelic as an asset"; "business innovation using Gaelic as an asset"; and a Gaelic student summer placement scheme.
Neil Ross, HIE's Head of Community Growth said: "We are delighted to be working with Comunn na Gàidhlig in the delivery of these schemes, and very much look forward to seeing the individual projects which will come forward. HIE is confident, and the soon to be published research will evidence this, that Gaelic is a real and substantial asset that communities throughout Scotland can benefit from.
"As these projects bring new jobs, and strengthen existing business or organisations, then that in turn supports our communities to be more resilient, and confident that they are taking advantage of a valuable linguistic asset which adds economic and social value."
While CnaG and HIE have worked together on similar schemes in the past, the funding available currently is much higher. Under the 'marketing and new markets' scheme, businesses will be able to apply for some 60% of project costs, up to a maximum of £3,500 - (if it includes a digital element, such as web or other online activity)- or up to 60% and £2000 for exterior signage or vehicle livery.
For 'business innovation' projects, the threshold is 90% of project costs, and a maximum award of £15,000.
Donald MacNeill, CnaG chief executive said: "We know that projects exist to take advantage of this HIE support. We particularly welcome being able to increase the level of support available in some instances, and the strong focus which HIE is bringing to digital projects in particular.
"In today's world there are people interested in Gaelic across the globe - from expat Scots to those who have learnt the language abroad without even having seen Scotland. Digital marketing can help businesses here reach out to that potential market."
"We're also delighted to be able to support innovative projects. This has the potential to allow a business to take a project through from inception to implementation - or if it's of a greater financial scale than this scheme can support, it could be used as a gateway to further investment."
The Gaelic Student summer placement scheme will see at least 25 students given the opportunity to get summer employment in businesses or organisations where Gaelic is the language of the workplace. This allows the students to gain valuable working experience, and to develop or maintain their language skills. For the businesses, they get extra staff during the busy summer period, and benefit from the students' new ideas and enthusiasm.
Donald MacNeill continued: "We've delivered the Placement scheme in the past with assistance from HIE, but also with support from The Highland Council, and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. We'll look forward to continuing this partnership in 2014 and help bring young people back to their communities during the summer months by enabling worthwhile employment.
"It's also worth highlighting that it's possible for a business or organisation to apply for support under all three schemes if the project is sufficiently strong or exciting. That really would be something to look forward to - delivering benefits for the business, its community and the Gaelic economy all at the same time."
All three schemes are open to applications now, and funding needs to be committed and spent by the end of December, 2014. Businesses or third-sector organisations keen to take advantage of these opportunities can speak to CnaG in the first instance, or visit the CnaG website at www.cnag.org