Nine companies embarking on Highlands innovation programme with focus on digital, data and AI

Nine companies embarking on an innovation support programme in the Highlands will bring their products and services to market with a combined focus on digital, data and AI.

Developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the established Pathfinder Accelerator programme nurtures growth in life science and technology and helps bring new business ideas to market quicker.

This is the sixth group to start on the programme since it began in 2018 and will be delivered completely online, providing expert training and mentoring.

The successful applicants will focus on developing or innovating a product or service, with a combined focus this time on digital, data and AI. This will allow the group to support each other with peer learning and share their specialist knowledge.

Although previously targeted at SMEs in the Highland Council area, the Pathfinder Accelerator programme has now been extended for anyone interested across the whole of the Highlands and Islands area through additional funding from HIE’s digital programme.

The businesses taking part are:

  • V4 Vision Ltd (Wick) – a new start-up aiming to promote awareness of good eye health, enable remote eye testing through an interactive mobile app, and to develop out of clinic diagnostic products using VR technology and AI.
  • Energy Mutual Ltd (Fort William) – supports independent renewable energy generators through an online asset management platform.
  • Druid Ltd (Inverness) – diagnostic product for babies who have been identified by a clinician as being at high risk of developing Type 1 Diabetes.
  • Practically Green Ltd (Kirkhill) – technology to monitor energy use and the internal environment in domestic and commercial premises.
  • Strategy Cards Ltd (Elgin) – card based businesses planning tool that will be digitised.
  • Underground Maintenance Systems Ltd (Elgin) – underground surveying and inspection services.
  • BC Technologies LLP (Dunoon) – adrenaline pen that contacts emergency services.
  • On Tiree Ltd (WeLan) (Isle of Tiree) – sustainable luxury Scottish wool brand creating bespoke products based on a zero to little waste model.
  • Tritonia Scientific (Oban) – diving and underwater research company offering innovative photogrammetry tools to generate three-dimensional computer models of underwater structures.

Andrea McColl, senior development manager at HIE, said: “We are delighted that we can support this group of businesses across the Highlands and Islands. Using online support sessions, they will be able to move forward with their ideas and receive the support required.

“Commercial success of any new product or service depends on a strong business model and being able to reach the right market. The Pathfinder programme not only guides companies and start-ups through this process but assists with networking and expert insight. Our delivery partners, The Leadership Factory and UP Accelerator, have worked with many leading businesses and having access to their experience and contacts is extremely valuable for our participants.”

The 12-week course is designed to enable participants to develop their sustainable business model, or launch a new product saving both time and money. The programme allows them to test business ideas in a focused environment, identify new routes to market and develop their sales pitch. A further 12 weeks of coaching and mentoring is offered to help the start-ups and entrepreneurs develop contacts, source funding and plan for future growth.

Participants will benefit from dedicated experienced business coaches, tailored workshops and seminars.

The Pathfinder Accelerator programme was made possible by HIE’s Northern Innovation Hub (NIH), as part of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal to help SMEs in the Highlands and Islands area to improve their businesses through innovation.

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.

Although previously targeted at SMEs in the Highland Council area, the Pathfinder Accelerator programme has now been extended for anyone interested across the whole of the Highlands and Islands area through additional funding from HIE’s digital programme.