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Businesses to fast track with accelerator programme

Published: 09/09/2021

Nine businesses from the Highlands will start the latest edition of the Pathfinder Accelerator programme today (9 September), which aims to put them on the fast track to success.

Terry Stebbings

Developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the established support programme nurtures growth in life science and technology and helps bring new business ideas to market quicker.

This is the seventh group to start on the six-month programme since it began in 2018 and will be delivered completely online, providing expert training and mentoring to support their business needs.

The programme will be delivered online by training specialists Skillfluence Ltd who have developed and designed a new course structure including an e-learning platform to make the course more accessible.

The businesses taking part are:

  • Caithness Voluntary Group, Wick – provides digital skills support packages for third sector organisations
  • Healthcare News Scotland Ltd, Obanprovides sector news and intelligence briefings for Scotland’s health, social care and life sciences
  • Highland Food and Drink Club CIC, Invernessdevelopment of a loyalty app and augmented reality tool for food and drink businesses
  • Ness Biosensors Ltd, Inverness – diagnostic and monitoring devices for infectious disease and critical care
  • Red Sock Laundrette, Grantown-on-Speydeveloping an app that integrates various IT systems to streamline trade operations for staff and back-office admin.
  • SAMS Enterprise, Oban innovative modelling software to allow measurement of marine growth on underwater structures
  • Vet Public Health Consultancy, Halkirk - veterinary input into ‘One Health’ solutions
  • Zepice, Muir of Ord - Fusion Spice Blends, seasoning and jams and cookery classes specialising in Mauritian cuisine
  • Change Your World Events Ltd, Inverness - health and wellbeing events and coaching services

The programme forms part of the The Northern Innovation Hub, which is being led by HIE on behalf of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal partnership, with £11m from UK Government and £1.7m through the European Regional Development Fund Scotland programme 2014-2020. The Deal is a joint £315 million initiative supported by both the UK and Scottish governments.

The programme provides businesses at all stages in their development with the opportunity to test a new product or process to ensure its fit for the market.  It combines weekly workshops sessions, masterclasses and one-to-one coaching sessions. The aim is to build a new company, or launch a new product, in a shorter space of time with substantially less money.

Andrea McColl, senior development manager life sciences at HIE, said: “It’s always exciting to meet a new group of Pathfinder participants for the first time. We are looking forward to supporting them in their aspirations over the next six months and beyond. I am sure they will have many inspiring discussions with the coaches and guest speakers on a range of topics like product development, innovation, business strategy, finance and investment.”

Among the companies to benefit from a previous programme is Proterra Energy Ltd. Terry Stebbings, along with his brother Neil, developed Hydro Trailer – a cost effective mobile hydropower system designed for developing countries.

Terry said: “Pathfinder gave us an understanding of focus. We wanted to meet with organisations like Oxfam and Red Cross - but Pathfinder pushed us to find out who could make the kind of decisions our business needed, and how we could get in front of them. Before taking part, we were too broad brush. The course helped us to distill our product and break down our markets and customers.”

Skillfluence Ltd will partner with Investing Women Angels to provide business advice and support to the participants. They will provide coaching and mentoring as well as help develop networking, sourcing, funding, and planning for future growth.

Pathfinder will be recruiting for further intakes starting in January 2022.  Sign up to a taster to find out more about the programme:  Register for 6th October taster session 2-3pm here and 10th November taster session 2-3pm here.  

Places are available for businesses, social enterprises and entrepreneurs from across the Highlands and Islands, due to additional funding from HIE.