14 November 2018

Business start-ups to fast track with the Pathfinder Accelerator

Eight businesses and entrepreneurs in the Highlands will start their journey on Pathfinder Accelerator tomorrow (Thursday 15 November) at An Lòchran, Inverness Campus.

This is the second group to start on the tried and tested programme which was designed and developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and is aimed at nurturing growth in life sciences and technology.

The Pathfinder Accelerator Programme forms part of the Northern Innovation Hub, which is being led by HIE on behalf of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal partnership.

The Hub is a set of carefully targeted projects to strengthen innovation and increase competitiveness among businesses across The Highland Council area.

It was awarded £11m by the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal, along with £3m from the European Regional Development Fund and £2m from HIE.

The businesses taking part are:

  • SpeyCardio Ltd: Design of body-worn defibrillator
  • OrganLike: Development and supply of hyper-real organ models for use in surgical simulation and training
  • Enigma Business Consulting: Development of software to assess factors impacting on employee engagement
  • The Apprentice Store: Provision of business IT support services, web development and cyber security using a social enterprise model
  • World Adventure Guides: Publishing digital adventure travel guides
  • Simulators For Teaching Ltd: Science simulator software packages
  • FastSave Innovations Ltd: Innovative life buoy design and deployment
  • HeBe Highland: Delivering corporate wellbeing support services

The programme provides businesses at all stages in their development the opportunity to test a new product or process to ensure its fit for the market. The programme 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.

Participating businesses will receive support from coaches and experts from a wide variety of industry expertise and the programme will culminate in February with a Dragon’s Den style pitching session to potential investors.

James Cameron, head of Life Sciences at HIE, commented: Following the success of the first group which on the programme which ran from May to August 2018, we are delighted to welcome our second group today. Having seen the positive impact that the programme has had on the first group. We are excited to see more companies developing successful business models and individuals are becoming more confident.”

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HIE supports a number of initiatives that aim to redress the gender balance across the Highlands and Islands. Fifty percent of the participants in this round of the programme are ambitious female entrepreneurs.

Lesley Patience from HeBe Highland, said: “Having spent a good deal of time researching our idea we feel it is now time to develop our business skills and connections.  Pathfinder will give us the tools and networks we need to get investor-ready and take our service to market.  The weekly sessions will keep us focused and the programme will support us to establish that we have a viable and saleable service."

The programme is free of charge to SMEs operating in the Highland Council area. Participants also have the opportunity of a hot desk in HIE’s NEXUS collaborative working environment on Inverness Campus.  This facility is available to eligible start-ups and small businesses requiring a presence in the Highlands.

Pathfinder will be recruiting for further intakes in 2019.

The Northern Innovation Hub is a programme of initiatives in the Highland Council area seeking to support the biggest opportunities for the region to create a global competitive advantage. The projects are targeted at supporting the long-term growth of small and emerging enterprises in sectors including life sciences, tourism, food and drink and the creative industries.

The programme will be delivered by The Leadership factory and coaching will be provided by UP Accelerator.

www.nih.hie.co.uk/pathfinder