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Connage Highland Dairy shop

Launch of new support for Highland food and drink firms

Published: 18/08/2022

A new support service for Highland based food and drink companies will be launched at a series of events next week in Fort William, Inverness and Dornoch.

Claire Munro, Northern Innovation Hub senior project manager

Attendees will be able to share their business challenges and asked for their views on the detail and content of the service.

They will also find out more about plans to develop a physical food and drink technology centre at Alness in Easter Ross, which will ultimately be used in delivering the support programme.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has commissioned SAC Consulting to provide a mix of virtual and face-to-face activities over the next three years, focused on innovation and the development of new products and services.

The programme will have strong links to the development of a physical TechHUB and will include business and stakeholder engagement, networking and collaboration, and demonstration and learning opportunities.

There will also be support for young entrepreneurs in the sector, with links to HIE’s IMPACT30 programme, which aims to help foster the next generation of business leaders.

The contract is funded by the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal. It forms part of HIE’s wider support for the sector through the Northern Innovation Hub (NIH), a £14.2m initiative led by HIE as part of the Deal.

NIH is funded with £11m from UK Government, £1.2m ERDF and £2m from HIE and focuses on developing innovation in small and medium sized enterprises in the Highland Council area.

The programme of activity will be launched at three in-person events at which Andrew Niven from the Knowledge Bank will highlight food trends relevant to the Highlands.

The first is on Tuesday 23 August at the Advanced Manufacturing Centre in Fort William. This will be followed by the Dornoch launch on Wednesday 24 August in the town’s Royal Dornoch Hotel. The third event is at Bogbain Farm, Inverness on Thursday 25 August.

Claire Munro, HIE’s senior project manager for the Northern Innovation Hub, said:

“These launch events are being held for food and drink producers and start-ups to find out how the new support service can help their growth plans. We are also keen to understand what sort of activities they would expect to see included.  There will be businesses from the area at each event who’ll share their experiences, and it’s a great opportunity to showcase local food and drink products. 

“We are very pleased to be working with SAC Consulting on this new venture and look forward to welcoming a wide range of enterprises at the events.”