Pathfinder Cohort 15 Cropped

26 businesses to fast track with Pathfinder programme

Published: 21/09/2023

Twenty-six entrepreneurs from the Highlands and Islands have started the final edition of a four-month programme aimed at putting them on the fast track to success.

Pathfinder Accelerator is led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). The programme provides intensive support for businesses in the life Sciences sector with a focus on technology.

Delivered mostly online, the programme provides intensive training and mentoring for entrepreneurs looking to build a company or launch a new product.   

This is the fifteenth group to start on the programme since it started five years ago. The businesses taking part met up with programme organisers at the Life Sciences Innovation Centre in Inverness 14 September to start on their fast-track journey to success.

Through the programme their ideas will be pressure-tested and they will be supported to prepare to pitch for investment. In the five years since the programme began, 170 participants have benefited from it.

Previous participant Chris Ratcliffe, based in Isle of Bute, owns – a meta data platform firm helping companies engage virtually with their customers such as art galleries or other cultural experiences. He said:

"This course has been what I needed x 100. During the four months, I transitioned from being a technologist to a businessperson and used all of the programme’s upskilling components to achieve this.”

Pathfinder provides businesses at all stages in their development 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.     

The programme forms part of the Northern Innovation Hub, which is led by HIE and funded by the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal partnership, with £11m from UK Government.  

The Inverness and Highland City Region-Deal is a joint initiative supported by up to £315m investment from the UK and Scottish governments, The Highland Council, HIE and UHI, aimed at stimulating sustainable regional economic growth.
Although originally targeted at SMEs in the Highland Council area, the Pathfinder Accelerator programme has been extended for anyone interested across the whole of the Highlands and Islands area through additional funding from HIE.  

The programme is 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. 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.   

Catriona Ramsay, development manager at HIE, said:

“It’s fantastic to welcome another group of businesses to Pathfinder Accelerator. Together with our partners Skillfluence and Investing Womens Angels, we are excited to continue the successful programmes and support more businesses to move forward with their ideas and succeed.”

UK Government Minister for Scotland Malcolm Offord said:

"I wish the final cohort of entrepreneurs on the Pathfinder Accelerator Programme every success, and applaud them for aspiring to be the job creators of tomorrow.  

"Thanks to this programme 170 business start-ups have benefited from intensive support in the past five years, and the Highlands will continue to reap the economic benefits for many years to come.  

"The UK Government has invested £11 million in the Northern Innovation Hub and is levelling up communities across Scotland with more than £2.4 billion."   


The 26 business involved in the latest intake are: 

AJS Medical, (Fortrose): educational courses aimed at health professionals and patients that teach evidence-based lifestyle interventions to prevent, manage or reverse chronic diseases.

Ayurveda with Amber, (Inverness): ancient Indian healing practises and massage therapies, to help chronic illness, provide overall wellness, and nourish mind, body & soul.

Branding By Amber, (Inverness): works with passionate business owners to create powerful branding that puts your business on the map; from logo design & brand assets to social media, digital content and advertising.

Midge Media, (Ullapool): web design service based in Ullapool providing a one stop shop in graphic design, photography and web design.

Inari Collective, (Inverness): creating a safe space where everyone is heard, seen and accepted. Empowering young people to co-design and co-produce to increase resilience and improve mental health.

Polycroo Ltd (Orkney): experience the ultimate in polytunnel excellence and elevate your gardening experience with thriving crops, and nourishing food in a heaven of tranquillity, crafted to withstand the elements and nurture your soul.

International Academy of Energetic Health (Inverness):  training new bio-energetics practitioners around the world, through our BeST Resonant Health Online Mentorship Programme.

Delphi Medical Services Ltd (Fortrose):  the private clinic in the Highlands that offers you timely, holistic medical consultations in chronic pain and other medical /surgical specialities.

Ullapool Unpacked C.I.C. (Ullapool): providing an accessible, sustainable and affordable service to help its community produce less waste in all its forms.

ETHOS Safety (Nairn)the health and safety help you need for the Highlands and Islands

Darach Social Croft (Strontian):  using nature and natural resources therapeutically to enhance mental and physical health and wellbeing.

The Fauld Partnership (Isle of Mull): offering a unique outdoor experience of the landscape, heritage and nature of North-East Mull through guided farm hikes and courses on traditional skills such as dry-stone walling.

Highland Well-Ness Collective (Inverness):  a social enterprise empowering Highland lives through holistic wellbeing services and counselling for individuals and communities.

Restilled (Elgin):  a range of copper barware and gifts re-crafted by recycling genuine Scottish Distillery Copper. 

Up By Marc (Tain):  providing upcycled furniture, products and services to businesses and individuals. Crafting artisan boards, wood craft items and providing furniture restoration services.

Elite Automotive Technical Training Academy (ETTA) (Inverness):  providing the very best technical training to assist you in becoming the best version of yourself through to fully qualified technicians to meet the needs of the electric and hydrogen powered vehicle market into the future. 

Lighten The Load (Inverness): helping businesses create a much happier and more effective workforce with bespoke stress-busting laughter wellness sessions.

Scottish Seaweed Industry Association (Oban):  is a collective organisation representing and promoting the interests of businesses and individuals involved in the cultivation, harvesting, and utilisation of seaweed resources in Scotland.

Northwest Sutherland Community Seaweed Farm (Kinlochbervie): Development of a community run seaweed farm on the northwest coast of Sutherland.

Flying Scotsman (Inverness): Drone technology and algorithms bringing modern technology into everyday scenarios requiring photography or videography settings.

Mallaig Community Hub & Shop (Mallaig):  sell sustainable local produce with additional space to host activities focused on helping with cost-of-living crisis, cultural engagement, and environmental issues.

Work Health Solutions Ltd (Inverness): Developing a "needs-based" low-cost occupational health service for small businesses.

All Things Garden: (Inverness) Development of microbial fuel cells from various natural sources such as moss.

Central Tutors (Carrbridge): Digital tutoring agency in Scotland, primarily focusing on the Scottish Education System. 

Original Circuit (Orkney): Specialists in engineering content creation, boasting a substantial 13,000-user mailing list of engineers, which we are actively seeking to monetise. The long-term vision is to develop a platform that automates engineering test equipment.

Isle of Skye Trekking Therapy (Isle of Skye): Equine Assisted Therapeutic Coaching (EATC) sessions and Wellbeing Workshops providing a service to the local community and visitors to help improve mental wellbeing through individual sessions and workshops.

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