Sixteen ambitious students, bringing fresh ideas for business development to companies across the Highlands and Islands, are gathering to prepare their own dragons den style pitches at a residential training course this week.
The students, who come from across the UK and abroad to work for eight weeks with local businesses, are part of the TalentScotland Summer Placement Programme managed by HIE.
The projects carried out provide new thinking for the host businesses across a wide range of disciplines including scientific research, marketing projects and design.
As well as gaining experience through the paid placements, the students receive tailored training from Robert Gordon University's Aberdeen Business School. This is taking place this week at Fairburn Activity Centre near Muir of Ord.
The training helps them with presentation and business pitching skills in preparation for a competitive event at the end of August where they pitch their project findings to a panel of business experts.
The students attending this week's training course work in businesses and social enterprises in Shetland, Stornoway, Fort William, Inverness, Tain, Oban, Torridon, Wick, Thurso, Lossiemouth, Islay and Dingwall (details of businesses and students below).
James Porcas, who is working with Highland Biosciences at the Dochfour Business Park, in Inverness, is studying for a MSCi Natural Sciences at University College London.
He said: ""My placement has been a great opportunity to learn new lab skills. Highland Biosciences is a small ambitious company and I feel like my research is making a difference."
Up to 70 students in Scotland will benefit from this course in 2011 and 2012. The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) has made the development and delivery of the tailored section of the course possible.
Ruth Sime, Acting Head of Business Support Programmes at HIE said: "The TalentScotland Summer Placement Programme provides benefits for both students and employers. The relevant work experience gained by the students sets them apart from others when applying for jobs, particularly when graduate opportunities are limited. The employers are able to take on committed project staff at a subsidised rate during the holiday period. Some employers are able to offer a permanent job to their placement students when they have graduated and this helps to retain skilled young people in the region."
About the programme:
The summer placements are part of the TalentScotland Placement Programme, a partnership project comprising HIE, SFC, SDS, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Government and the Association for Graduate Careers Services. The programme also offers 3-12 month graduate placements across Scotland in organisations in all sectors. In the Highlands and Islands the programme is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
Students who are taking part in the training course over 2-5 August: