Applications open for product launch training

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Firms exploring ideas that help tackle climate change are being invited to apply for a free six-month training and mentoring programme.

Developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Pathfinder is for small- to medium-size businesses and is targeting those in the life sciences, healthcare, animal health, aquaculture technology, IT, and engineering sectors.

Delivered mostly online, Pathfinder is all about supporting entrepreneurs looking to build a company or launch a new product.

Applications for the programme are now open and potential participants can register for a taster session on November 10.

The application deadline is December 14 and the next programme starts on January 14, with a focus on climate change solutions.

Andrea McColl, senior development manager for life sciences at HIE, said: ‘For this next cohort we are particularly interested in helping firms that want to contribute to improving the environment or develop a circular business model and the transition to a net zero economy.

We are delighted to be able to expand the programme to help more companies across the Highlands and Islands. Along with our programme delivery partners, Skillfluence and Investing Women Angels, we’re really looking forward to welcoming another group of participants and supporting them to move forward with their ideas and achieve commercial success.’

Kyle Smith of Lochaber firm Energy Mutual is a previous participant of Pathfinder. He said: ‘One of the benefits of being part of the Pathfinder programme is that it started to open up all the other doors that you didn’t realise were out there in terms of support for small businesses in the Highlands. Having that initial contact has been really helpful.’

Based in Fort William, Energy Mutual supports independent renewable energy generators through an online asset management platform.

Kyle applied for the Pathfinder programme to help focus the firm’s strategy and gain the knowledge and tools to take it to the next level.  Since participating in Pathfinder, Energy Mutual has begun to expand and will continue to increase its offering and further innovate.

The Pathfinder Accelerator programme forms part of the Northern Innovation Hub, a project led by HIE, with £11m from UK Government as part of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal, and £1.7m through the European Regional Development Fund Scotland programme 2014-2020.

It will be delivered by training specialists Skillfluence who have developed and designed a new course structure including an e-learning platform to make the course more accessible. Skillfluence will partner with Investing Women Angels to provide business advice and support to this year’s participants, providing coaching and mentoring as well as help develop networking, sourcing, funding and planning for future growth.