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Grantown laundry wins place on HIE mentoring scheme


By Calum MacLeod

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Terry Stebbings of Proterra Energy says that being a part of the Pathfinder programme enabled him to focus his business more.
Terry Stebbings of Proterra Energy says that being a part of the Pathfinder programme enabled him to focus his business more.

A Grantown laundrette that is developing its own app is among nine Highland businesses selected for a business mentoring programme to help them on the fast track to success.

The Red Sock Laundry is developing an app that integrates various IT systems to streamline trade operations for staff and back-office admin.

It is one of the business innovations which the Pathfinder Accelerator programme is designed to help progress,

The six-month programme has been developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), to nurture growth in life science and technology and help bring new business ideas to market more quickly, with each business taking part receiving expert training and mentoring.

The programme will be delivered online by training specialist Skillfluence Ltd, which has developed and designed a new course structure including an e-learning platform to make the course more accessible.

The other businesses taking part are: Inverness-based Highland Food and Drink Club CIC, health and wellbeing events and coaching service Change Your World Events Ltd, and Ness Biosensors Ltd, which develops diagnostic and monitoring devices for infectious disease and critical care, Mauritian cuisine specialist Zepice of Muir of Ord,Vet Public Health Consultancy and Caithness Voluntary Group from Caithness, and Healthcare News Scotland Ltd and SAMS Enterprise, both of Oban.

The programme forms part of the The Northern Innovation Hub, which is being led by HIE on behalf of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal partnership, with £11 million from UK Government and £1.7 million through the European Regional Development Fund Scotland programme 2014-2020. The deal is a joint £315 million initiative supported by both the UK and Scottish governments.

The programme provides businesses at all stages in their development with 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.

Andrea McColl, senior development manager life sciences at HIE, said: “It’s always exciting to meet a new group of Pathfinder participants for the first time. We are looking forward to supporting them in their aspirations over the next six months and beyond. I am sure they will have many inspiring discussions with the coaches and guest speakers on a range of topics like product development, innovation, business strategy, finance and investment.”

Among the companies to benefit from a previous programme is Inverness-based Proterra Energy Ltd. Terry Stebbings, along with his brother Neil, developed Hydro Trailer – a cost effective mobile hydropower system designed for developing countries.

Terry said: “Pathfinder gave us an understanding of focus. We wanted to meet with organisations like Oxfam and Red Cross - but Pathfinder pushed us to find out who could make the kind of decisions our business needed, and how we could get in front of them. Before taking part, we were too broad brush. The course helped us to distill our product and break down our markets and customers.”

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.

Pathfinder will be recruiting for further intakes starting in January 2022. Sign up to a taster to find out more about the programme: Register for the October 6 taster session here and the November 10 taster session here.

Places are available for businesses, social enterprises and entrepreneurs from across the Highlands and Islands, due to additional funding from HIE.


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