Accelerate your business growth

Virtual accelerator to support businesses in the Highlands and Islands

Entrepreneurs in the Highlands and Islands are now able to access advice and support to help them commercialise their business idea.  

Highlands and Islands Enterprise is currently running a three-month pilot of a ‘virtual’ accelerator in the Highlands and Islands in partnership with Entrepreneurial Spark. Entrepreneurial Spark, a not for profit social enterprise, operates accelerators in Scotland and the rest of the UK and uses a tried and tested methodology to assist entrepreneurs.

What is a virtual accelerator?

An accelerator provides a structured framework to help entrepreneurs commercialise their business concept faster and avoid the pitfalls that can be encountered bringing a new product or service to market or moving into a new stage of growth.

It is difficult for businesses in the Highlands and Islands to access the help that is usually offered through the type of accelerators operating in other parts of Scotland. These accelerators offer a range of support services to the entrepreneurs based in their premises. However, this model doesn’t fit the geographically dispersed nature of the business base in the Highlands and Islands.  

This is why a ‘virtual’ accelerator is being operated for a three-month period in our region to see if this type of support can be delivered successfully by telephone and online. The virtual accelerator started mid-September and will finish in mid-December 2016. The pilot is mainly geared towards pre-start and young businesses but has been opened to more mature businesses looking to kick start their growth. 

Entrepreneurs interested can read more about the pilot and find the application form here > Applicants will be interviewed by Entrepreneurial Spark who will assess their readiness to gain value from the virtual accelerator experience.  

What will the pilot involve? 

The pilot involves taking part in three face to face sessions in Inverness:

  • A boot camp to review and challenge their business idea on 14 and 15 September 2016
  • A session on entrepreneurial skills on 26 October 2016
  • A close out session to review progress and celebrate success on 7 December 2016

How will it work?

Each participant on the pilot has been allocated an ‘enabler’.  The role of the enabler is to help the entrepreneurs assess the strengths and weaknesses of their business idea and carry out research and other tasks to make sure their product or service is fit for purpose and ready for their market.   The enabler maintains regular contact with participants by telephone or Skype throughout the duration of the pilot and facilitates access to mentors drawn from Entrepreneurial Spark’s partners who provide specialist advice on topics such as cyber security or cash flow as and when required or necessary. 

What does it cost?

There is no charge for participating on the pilot. Companies will be required to complete a form detailing other forms of assistance they are receiving from HIE or other public sector bodies to ensure they meet the guidelines for State Aid which caps the value of assistance received by businesses within a three year period. 


To discuss the pilot please contact louise.macdonald@hient.co.uk

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