Entrepreneurs welcomed to final iteration of Pathfinder Accelerator

Entrepreneurs welcomed to final iteration of Pathfinder Accelerator

Pictured: Members of the 15h and final Pathfinder cohort

Twenty-six entrepreneurs from the Highlands and Islands have embarked on the final edition of the Pathfinder Accelerator, a four-month programme led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), aimed at expediting their journey to business success.

The programme provides intensive support for businesses in the life sciences sector with a focus on technology. Delivered mostly online, intensive training and mentoring is given to 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 on 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 ZoneVS.io – 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 £11 million 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 £11m in the Northern Innovation Hub and is levelling up communities across Scotland with more than £2.4 billion.”

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