Lochaber businesses offered fast-track accelerator programme

Karrie Marshall, director of Creativity In Care. Photograph: Paul Campbell, HIE

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A free programme to support businesses to grow is open for new applications. A taster session is arranged for Wednesday March 18 at the Alexandra Hotel in Fort William.

Developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the Pathfinder Accelerator programme is open to existing and start-up companies in the engineering, technology, IT, health and life sciences sectors.

The six-month programme is designed to help companies evaluate their business model, build a network of contacts and pressure test ideas. The support provided will reduce the time and expense it can take to test the commercial viability of new ideas.

HIE has partnered with The Leadership Factory, who will deliver the Pathfinder Accelerator in Fort William this spring. This taster session starts at 12.30pm and will provide further information about the programme, materials and time frames. It will provide an opportunity to meet the coaches and ask questions.

Participants will benefit from experienced business coaches, tailored workshops and masterclasses as well as the opportunity to engage with life sciences and technology experts. Further support can be accessed throughout the course. There will be six face-to-face sessions over 12 weeks with additional remote sessions and coaching weeks.

The programme will be followed by a further three months’ coaching and mentoring, with opportunities to develop contacts, source funding and plan for future growth.

Previous participant Karrie Marshall, director and founder of Creativity in Care, said: ‘Pathfinder provided me with an opportunity to test ideas and connect with potential customers that I had not even considered. It has helped me realise my inner-business-self. Since Pathfinder, I can feel the momentum building and I have secured more contracts for Creativity in Care.’

The Pathfinder Accelerator programme helps SMEs in the Highland Council area to improve their businesses through innovation and forms part of the HIE-led Northern Innovation Hub (NIH). The Hub is a set of carefully targeted projects to strengthen innovation and increase competitiveness among businesses across The Highland Council area.

The NIH project received £11m from the UK Government and £1.7m ERDF support as part of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal. The Deal is a joint £315 million initiative supported by both the UK and Scottish governments.

Find out more information about applying to take part in the programme and signing up for the taster session at www.hie.co.uk/pathfinder.