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More young entrepreneurs set to make an impact

Published: 08/02/2021

Another 27 young business leaders from around the Highlands and Islands have become the latest to take part in a year-long programme aimed at developing the next generation of entrepreneurs.

IMPACT30 is a fully funded business growth programme, offering bespoke support from industry specialists. It is open to people aged 35 and under, who are in key decision-making roles in young ambitious businesses.

The programme forms part of the Northern Innovation Hub, a project led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), with £11m from the UK Government as part of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal and £1.7m of funding awarded through the European Regional Development Fund Scotland Programme 2014-2020. 

Initially the programme was open to young business leaders in the Highland Council area, but in October 2020, HIE announced it was investing £100,000 to extend it across the Highlands and Islands.

With nine people from outside the Highland Council area, representing a range of sectors from food and drink to professional services, the latest group to join is the programme's largest since its inception in 2018.

Lizi Blackwood, development manager with HIE’s Northern Innovation Hub, said:

“We’ve always had a great response to IMPACT30, which is indicative of the extent of entrepreneurship that exists among young people in the Highlands and Islands.

“It’s great to see the largest group yet get started on the programme, especially in the current circumstances, and we very much look forward to seeing them develop their ideas for growth.”

One of those taking part this time round is Jordane Symington, the founder of Hebridean jewellery firm, Islewear, who said:

“I'm over the moon to have been selected to join the Impact30 programme amongst other young entrepreneurs and I’m looking forward to connecting with the rest of the cohort. I can't wait to get started making positive changes within my business and putting in to effect the advice from industry experts.”

IMPACT30 is delivered on HIE’s behalf by Anderson Anderson and Brown Consulting (AAB) who use their extensive business network to connect participants with top industry experts. 

Mark Bell, programme director at AAB, said: 

“During a difficult 2020 I have been inspired by the resilient, ambition, and drive that exists in the young people we have worked with in the Highlands and Islands. There are already many young business leaders across the region making a significant contribution to the economy, and I can’t wait to support our new group doing likewise.”

Cllr Trish Robertson, Chair of Highland Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee said:

“This innovative programme is developing our best entrepreneurial talent in the Highland to drive the future economy.  We are also delighted to see the programme extend into other regional areas benefiting from the City Region Deal project’s work.”

UK Government Minister Iain Stewart said:

“Congratulations to the latest cohort to join the fantastic IMPACT30 programme. It has never been more important that we support the talented entrepreneurs that are the future of our economy. The UK Government is investing more than £1.5 billion in growth deal projects across every part of Scotland, helping local communities to build back better.”