Skills programme on offer to aquaculture entrepreneurs

Businesses in the aquaculture and animal health sectors are being encouraged to consider applying for a fast-track skills programme for entrepreneurs, developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The Pathfinder Accelerator programme from HIE is a free six-month development programme for small to medium sized businesses.

Delivered mostly online, Pathfinder provides training and mentoring for entrepreneurs looking to build a company or launch a new product.

Businesses have until 18 February to apply to be part of this cohort, which starts in March. HIE has created a partnership with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and their centre of excellence for research and knowledge exchange in the rural and veterinary sector – the Rural and Veterinary Innovation Centre.

Expert support will be given to participants to improve health, welfare or production efficiency in animal health and aquaculture. Solutions supporting the transition to circular models and net zero carbon systems will be welcomed.

Applications for the programme are now open. Potential participants can register for 1-to-1 sessions with a coach to find out what they can expect to gain if they sign up. More information, including how to apply, is available on the HIE website.

Andrea McColl, senior development manager for life sciences at HIE said: “We are excited to offer this sector focused Pathfinder in collaboration with SRUC, supporting the opportunities in the sector for businesses and organisations to do things differently and develop new products and services. Companies at different stages of their business journey will come together, benefit from expert input and also learn from each other by sharing experiences, challenging ideas, and networking.”

Martin Welch, founder of Skye-based KelpRing, is a previous participant of Pathfinder. He has created a system that provides a natural habitat for cleaner fish (wrasse) within salmon farms.

Martin said: “I’m not a businessman, I’m a fisherman. The Pathfinder programme was a real bonus for me… as a non-business minded person, it forced me to focus and tackle real-world business scenarios and create the end results I needed for my fledgling business. I’m actively using the tools I learned to use on the course – and it’s working well!”

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, with £11m from UK Government and £1.7m through the European Regional Development Fund Scotland programme 2014-2020.

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