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Innovation Day 2024: innovation is for everyone

Published 16/02/2024 by John Mackenzie 3 min read

John Mackenzie

Friday 16 February is National Innovation Day; a day dedicated to celebrating the spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship, and intellectual curiosity.  

As a member of the innovation team here at HIE, I am in the extremely fortunate position of celebrating innovation every day. Innovation is often associated with advancing science and technologies, however, innovation isn’t always about big transformation; sometimes it’s about small changes and trying something new.  

Innovating means making changes that will improve your business. It’s something every business, no matter the size can be a part of. It can help reduce your  carbon footprint, maximise margins, reduce costs, increase productivity, and lead to business growth.  

In 2023, a total of 231 businesses and organisations stepped out and contacted the HIE innovation programme for support. Across the Highlands and Islands, our innovation team regularly engage with entrepreneurial clients working on a diverse range of projects across a variety of sectors, all underpinned by a desire to use innovation to improve and grow their business.  

These are just some of the many clients we are currently working with to provide business support and strategic advice through HIE’s Innovation programme:  

The Oyster Restoration Company  

Based in Melon Charles, Wester-Ross, The Oyster Restoration Company is undertaking a broad research and development programme to grow native oyster spat for a number of markets.  

The Oyster Restoration Company aims to scale native oyster populations, contributing to the enhancement of marine biodiversity. 

Developments to date have been extremely positive and both founders, Matthew and Anna, have demonstrated such a passion and enthusiasm in terms of the work they are doing and their ambition to innovate to achieve their goals.   

We discussed how HIE could assist their research and development moving forward and developed a plan which included academic engagement, funding advice, automation, and knowledge exchange support. 


Charity and social enterprise  

Intellectual Property Support is another service we offer through the HIE Innovation programme. This can be general IP advice and support, referrals, and more specialist advice or utilising the IP audit scheme.  

I have recently been in contact with a charity and social enterprise partnership, who were looking for advice on protecting an accessible software solution they have developed to support adults with learning and physical disabilities working in their café.  

I was amazed by what this collaboration had achieved to date. Neither the charity or social enterprise are technology-focused, yet they have managed to harness innovation to make the software accessible to all employees, which in turn has increased business productivity.   

Ross-shire Engineering (RSE)  

I recently visited RSE’s facility at Muir of Ord. The firm designs and builds solutions for the water treatment sector across the United Kingdom. 

Ross-shire Engineering

HIE has supported the development of RSE’s own innovation department and a number of projects including developing different membrane technologies.  

Two of the Innovation team members from RSE are also part of the second cohort of our New Product Development Programme. ​​HIE’s New Product Development Programme is aimed at established businesses that have a new product or service they wish to bring to market.  

Through support from HIE Innovation, RSE has implemented a business growth strategy to expand operations and scale up its facility.  

This Innovation Day, we are showcasing three very different businesses and organisations from across the HIE area. However, they all have the same goal - to step out and innovate. So, from myself and my colleagues at HIE, Happy Innovation Day!  

Whatever your goal, our innovation experts can help you identify, plan and implement the changes you need to grow. Get in touch and if we can’t help you, we’ll know someone who can: