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Aquaculture firms in virtual support programme

Published: 29/04/2020

An established business support programme that nurtures growth in life sciences and technology begins a completely virtual run this week.

Programme trainers L-R Danny Meaney, Andy Kelly and Steven Thomas

Six businesses and entrepreneurs from the Highlands’ aquaculture sector will start their mentoring journey on Pathfinder Accelerator tomorrow (Thursday 30th April).

This is the fifth group to start on the programme, developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The programme was planned to be held in Fort William, but with face to face sessions unable to take place due to the COVID-19 crisis, the sessions will now be hosted virtually.

Andrea McColl, senior development manager for life sciences at HIE, said: “We are delighted that we can support this group of businesses using online support sessions, allowing them to move forward with their ideas and gain the support required.” 

The successful applicants begin the programme this week and all participants share the common theme of developing or innovating a product within the aquaculture and water sectors. This will allow the group to support each other with peer learning and share their specialist knowledge. The businesses taking part are:

  • Sgurr Services Ltd: Innovative kelp ‘forest’ that reduces stress for cleaner fish that combat sea lice
  • Climavore CIC: Intertidal regenerative aquaculture farm to expand the use of organisms that are low on the food chain
  • SAMS Research Services Ltd (SRSL Ltd): Two teams will work on different products:

- device that measures the depth of ice and snow remotely

- software tool that predicts the impact of salmon fish farm waste discharge on the   seabed

  • Phycofoods Ltd: Algae-based nutrition products
  • McPherson Atlantic Ltd: Seaweed-based foods and snacks produced using multi-species aquaculture

The 12-week course is designed to enable participants to develop their sustainable business model, or launch a new product saving both time and money. The programme allows participants to test business ideas in a focused environment, identify new routes to market and develop their sales pitch. A further 12 weeks of coaching and mentoring is offered to help the start-ups and budding entrepreneurs develop contacts, source funding and plan for future growth.

Participants will benefit from dedicated experienced business coaches, tailored workshops and seminars, the opportunity to engage with life sciences and technology experts.  

Andrea continued: “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 networking and expert insight. Our delivery partners, The Leadership Factory and UP Accelerator, have worked with a number of leading businesses and having access to their experience and contacts is incredibly valuable for our participants.” 

The Pathfinder Accelerator programme was made possible by HIE’s Northern Innovation Hub (NIH), as part of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal to help SMEs in the Highland Council area to improve their businesses through innovation.

The NIH project received £11m from the UK Government and £1.7m ERDF support as part of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal. The Deal is a joint £315 million initiative supported by both the UK and Scottish governments.

For those interested in future Pathfinder sessions, please visit www.hie.co.uk/pathfinder to register your interest.