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Pathfinder Accelerator

Helping entrepreneurs find the right path.

What it is?

Pathfinder is a fully funded opportunity for entrepreneurs to accelerate their new product or business in only six months. Participants will be taught practical tools and techniques to interrogate their idea, plan for opportunities and optimise for marketplace success.

To help you execute your idea, Pathfinder delegates are coached directly by experts across a range of disciplines including new product development, innovation, business strategy, finance, investment and more. The programme includes a “Dragon’s Den” style pitching session in front of real investors in a safe environment to help to you prepare for just about anything in the commercial world.

What to expect

  • Training and mentoring: Group sessions, masterclasses and 1-2-1 coaching by business experts and investors across a range of disciplines
  • Networking opportunities: Connect with funders, investors and other key contacts. Form a lifelong bond with other entrepreneurs who are on the same journey.
  • Accessible: Pathfinder is delivered online for a post-COVID world. This means no travel, 24/7 access to learning content, more touchpoints with expert coaches and the ability for you to fit it into your busy schedule, no matter where you're based.
  • Practical: You can use what you learn from day one. Every programme touchpoint is designed to drive action, helping you move quickly towards your commercial goal.

Who can apply?

Pathfinder Accelerator supports businesses, social enterprises, entrepreneurs and start-ups in the Highland region looking to develop a product, service or business model that relates to technology, life sciences, IT, healthcare, engineering, or aquaculture. This includes businesses using technology to help recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’re not sure if your business is eligible get in touch with us.

Apply for Pathfinder

Get in touch with the team to apply before the closing date of 8 August 2022.

Email the Pathfinder team

Meet the team

Meet the highly skilled team delivering Pathfinder. During the course programme, they'll share their knowledge and guide you through the programme.

Jamie McCallum, Pathfinder Course Director

Jamie McCallum - Course Director

Jamie has over 10 years’ experience in the design and delivery of business innovation and growth. As a former tech CEO and as a business owner, he knows the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship but with his knowledge of business strategy, innovation and commercialisation he is excited to lead participants through the Pathfinder Programme.

Elizabeth Pirrie - Corporate Financing Expert for Pathfinder

Elizabeth Pirrie - Corporate Financing Expert

Elizabeth is a qualified accountant with over 20 years of experience, who has been using her skills and passion to support start-up businesses since 2012. As Chief Operating Officer at AccelerateHER she is privileged to work with female founders across many sectors enabling them to grow and scale their businesses.

Victoria McCallum - Project Manager for Pathfinder

Victoria McCallum - Project Manager

Victoria oversees the operational and project management of the Pathfinder Accelerator. Victoria was formerly Head of Marketing for Europe in a biotech multi-national where she led the team responsible for all marketing and communication across all of their European territories.

Evelyn Simpson - Expert Leadership Coach for Pathfinder

Evelyn Simpson - Expert Leadership Coach

Evelyn is a highly experienced business coach, trainer, mentor, and NXD. She is a self-confessed start-up geek and has worked extensively with high growth companies throughout the UK ecosystem. Evelyn has worked with start-ups and their founders on leadership, strategy and funding, advocating a disciplined and practical approach, and has a particular passion for supporting female founders.

Julia Shalet - Product Innovation Expert for Pathfinder

Julia Shalet - Product Innovation Expert

Julia Shalet, Product Doctor, is an award-winning innovator, product consultant, qualitative researcher & trainer with more than 20 years experience. Her work has been recognised by the BBC, Guardian, Observer & Independent & her book, The Really Good Idea Test, was published by Pearson & won an Axiom Book Award in 2021.

Zach Sorrells - Programme Designer for Pathfinder

Zach Sorrells - Programme Designer

Zach is the Head of Innovation and Product Development at Skillfluence. He’s been working at the intersection of innovation, entrepreneurship and skills development for over 20 years.His experiences range from supporting innovation with corporate teams to co-founder of a tech startup to startup sales coach. He believes in the power of storytelling, the transformative potential of great questions and approaches most challenges with systems mindset.

If you are thinking about it – do it!
Sodi Kakouris, Pathfinder Alumni, LGOWIT
Andrea McColl presenting at pathfinder workshop

One-to-one Strategy Sessions

We're inviting applications new for our next Pathfinder programme. We will help you accelerate your ideas for new products, services or start-up ventures.

If you're interested in applying for our programme, or want to discuss your idea: we offer a fully funded one-to-one business strategy session with one of the Pathfinder team to discuss your business goals, challenges and potential solutions. Please e-mail pathfinder@skillfluence.co.uk to book.


The advice we received was invaluable and our business has gone from strength to strength thanks to the programme.
Jason and Yvonne Lancaster, Co-founders , Welan
Karen Simpson from My Primary Tutor sitting at a desk

My Primary Tutor

Discover how one Highland business owner faced the challenges brought about by COVID-19 and, by taking part in HIE’s Pathfinder Accelerator, was able to turn them into opportunities to innovate and grow.

View case study

Proterra case study


A childhood spent in Papua New Guinea, combined with expertise in micro renewable energy systems, led Terry Stebbings and his brother Neil to develop HydroTrailer, a cost-effective mobile hydropower system designed for developing countries.

View case study

Let's Get On With It Together

LGOWIT (Let’s Get On With It Together) was established in 2011 to provide ongoing support for people living with long-term health conditions.

View case study

Energy Mutual

How technology is helping one Highland business owner increase the profitability of small scale renewables projects for his clients.

View case study


Do you have a question about our Pathfinder programme? Find the answers to some of our frequently asked questions below

What is the benefit to me/my business?

Two things. Speed and Action! By bringing together a highly experienced team of expert trainers, coaches and investors, Pathfinder Accelerator will help you to rapidly execute your venture in the shortest possible time. It will help you avoid costly pitfalls and rapidly increase your confidence as you evolve your ideas based on real-world action-orientated validation of your product, service, marketing, business model and more. You will have access to a network of experts and resources that you can tap into to bring your ideas to life. Plus, it's all designed so you can fit the programme around your busy schedule without the need to travel. You will be pushed to reach your goals and ensure your business is reaching its full potential.

Who can apply?

The programme is open to small-medium size businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs related to the following industries: Life sciences, healthcare, animal health, aquaculture, technology, IT, or engineering.

This business should be based in the Highland region and looking to launch a new product or service or changing your business model. This includes businesses using technology to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery.

Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this.

What does the programme cover?

Through a series of workshops, led by highly experienced trainers, the programme covers a range of business skills. These aim to help you boost your business and fast track the development, implementation and growth of new products, services, or business models. Topics covered in the programme include:

  • Define and de-risk your venture
  • Business model design
  • Customer discovery
  • Building and leading your team
  • Funding your project
  • Pitching to investors
  • Scaling for growth

 As part of the programme, you will have access to coaching, mentoring and the opportunity to work with experienced investors and roundtable events with subject experts.

When does the programme begin?

We are recruiting for our programmes three times a year. If you have any questions, please contact the Pathfinder team.

When do applications close?

Applications will usually close 2 weeks before the programme start date. The closing date for applications is 20 April 2022. If you have any questions, please contact the Pathfinder team.

How long does the programme run?

The programme runs for 15 weeks. After this you will be invited to join our alumni events.

What kind of time commitment is involved?

This programme is not additional work to squeeze into your already busy diary. It's designed to accelerate your existing commercialisation journey, helping you hit your goals sooner without wasting time going down rabbit-holes that you may have otherwise. It does this by taking you on a logical journey, with training and coaching from experts at every stage, giving you the confidence and accountability to encourage you to more rapidly set and execute key activities until you achieve your goals.

In practical terms, the programme is split into two three-month stages. In the first stage you will be required to attend one live online workshop for half a day per week. In the second stage you will be required to attend around one hour per week. Additional time will be required for 1-2-1 coaching and online learning activities throughout the programme.

What costs are involved?

The programme is free to attend.  Funding will be provided by State Subsidy and you will receive a letter to notify you of the aid received. 

Is there support available after the programme?

After the programme you will have access to alumni resources including a news bulletin, roundtable events with industry and business experts.

Northern Innovation Hub logo block

About Pathfinder and the Northern Innovation Hub

Pathfinder is a support programme delivered through the Northern Innovation Hub, designed to build on and accelerate business innovation.

It is funded through the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal - a joint initiative supported by £315m investment from the UK and Scottish governments, The Highland Council, HIE and University of the Highlands and Islands. This programme also receives financial support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Innovation strategic intervention.



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