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Caithness businesses offered accelerator for new ideas

Published: 22/08/2018

Businesses in Caithness are being offered the chance to take part in a 12-week progamme to help them bring new ideas to market quicker and at less expense.

Organised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the Pathfinder Accelerator programme is free and open to existing and start-up companies in the life science, engineering and technology sectors.

It is specifically designed to help companies and start-ups develop novel business ideas and dramatically reduce the time and expense it normally takes to test the commercial viability of these ideas.

Participants benefit from experienced business coaches, tailored workshops and masterclasses as well as the opportunity to engage with life sciences and technology experts and access to other support programmes. 

The programme is followed by a further three months’ coaching and mentoring, with opportunities to develop contacts, source funding and plan for future growth. 

HIE has engaged The Leadership Factory and UP Accelerator to deliver the Pathfinder Accelerator and a cohort will run in Thurso this autumn.

A taster session was held at Caithness Horizons on Wednesday 22nd August.  This introduced the programme, materials and time frames, and provided an opportunity for attendees to meet the coaches, ask questions, and meet other potential participants.

Michael O’Connell of Visual Performance Management Ltd took part in a Pathfinder cohort earlier this year.  He said:

“Pathfinder provided an exceptionally good, rigorous and structured approach to help develop our business ideas. I had previously spent almost fifteen years working for a large company on new product development and still gained lots of new insight. The instructors have a huge amount of practical, real-world experience that really brings the course to life.”

James Cameron, HIE’s head of life sciences, added: “The Highlands and Islands benefits from a strong profile of life sciences and technology expertise; sectors which typically deliver high levels of innovation.

“Commercial success of any new idea depends on a strong business model and being able to reach the right market. The Pathfinder programme not only guides companies and start-ups through this process but assists with funding, networking and expert insight.”

The Pathfinder Programme forms part of the Northern Innovation Hub, which is being led by HIE on behalf of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal partnership. The Hub is a set of carefully targeted projects to strengthen innovation and increase competitiveness among businesses across The Highland Council area.

It was awarded £11m by the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal, along with £3m from the European Regional Development Fund and £2m from HIE.

All businesses or entrepreneurs interested in applying to take part are invited to contact Highlands and Islands Enterprise or to find out more information at


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