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Funding available for ambitious young businesses in the Highlands and Islands

Published: 05/07/2022

Young businesses and social enterprises in the Highlands and Islands that are looking to increase productivity, innovation and employment in the region, can apply for funding from the region's development agency.

The third round of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) Young Business Capital Investment Grant (YBCIG) is now open to companies with up to 250 full-time equivalent employees.

It follows on from the success of the first two rounds of the programme, introduced by HIE in 2020 to accelerate recovery from the pandemic. Together, the previous rounds have resulted in awards totalling £2.2m, generated around 160 FTE jobs and increased business turnover by more than £21m.

Businesses interested in applying must be less than five years old, operate within a defined range of growth sectors (see notes) and have a clear ambition to work outwith local markets.
The scheme can provide grant funding of up to 50% of eligible costs for capital equipment and works. The maximum grant available is £100,000.  

YBCIG aims to accelerate business growth, increase their contribution to the local economy and help to create new employment opportunities. The fund is open to those who can demonstrate creating and retaining well paid or green jobs as well as increasing efficiency and outputs or focusing on sustainability and growth.

Rachel Hunter, director of service delivery at HIE, said:

“As part of our continued response to supporting economic recovery following the pandemic, we want to stimulate entrepreneurship and employment in the Highlands and Islands. The YBCIG scheme helps to support growth and resilience in young businesses and social enterprises.

“We had a great response in the first two rounds of funding. Opening this up again will provide the incentive needed to assist more young businesses to move their plans forward, expand their impact on the local economy and contribute to the speed of the recovery.” 

Through a previous round of the YBCIG scheme, Shetland Oysters was awarded £11,690. The business is operated by Winston Brown and based on a family croft at Whiteness, Shetland, where oysters are cultivated and processed. The fund enabled the company to purchase equipment to help get products to market by harvesting, grading and packaging all oysters on site. Through the project, one full-time member of staff has been recruited.

Isle of Barra Distillers was awarded up to £67,567 through the young business fund to purchase and install an automated bottling line to speed up production. The company, which employs five staff on Barra, has experienced growing demand from online sales and tripled its exports since launching in 2017.

Another business supported through the scheme is Argyll Coffee Roasters, which was awarded £10,751. Based in Tighnabruaich on the Cowal peninsula, founder Eve Macfarlane operates a coffee roasting enterprise, selling roasted speciality coffee to wholesale and trade customers as well as directly to customers online. The project has enabled her to purchase new equipment to help produce more coffee for sale and this has resulted in the creation of a new post to support the growth of the business.

In Caithness, North Coast Watersports, a partnership of two young champion surfers whose main business is operating a surf school, was awarded funding through a previous round of the fund. Having established a solid reputation for providing an excellent service and getting the business on to a solid footing, they wanted to expand their offering by investing in a jet-ski to provide safety cover for big wave surfers and a RIB to allow boat trips and safety cover for paddleboarders and coasteering, together with safety and ancillary equipment. HIE provided 50% funding through the scheme towards the business’s £67k investment in the project.

Businesses can apply here until the 29 July 2022 

Businesses and social enterprises more than five years old that are interested in finding out how HIE can support their capital investment plans, can contact

Notes to editors

The Young Business Capital Investment Grant (YCCIG) was formerly known as the Young Company Capital Investment Grant (YCCIG). The first round of funding launched in September 2020 and the second followed in November 2021.

More info about the scheme, including the growth sectors that are eligible, can be found here

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