This week to mark Innovation Day (February 16), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is launching a new campaign ‘HIE time to innovate’.
Starting with 24-hours dedicated to innovation, local businesses will have access to funding, a free 24-hour hotline and opportunities to book one-to-one consultations with innovation experts.
The initiative will also roll out campaign activities ranging from digital content provided by online experts, peer influencers and industry leaders to events delivering networking opportunities.
The announcement follows news that HIE’s innovation funding has already increased turnover for local organisations by £2.2m and is aiming to generate £1.4m more.
One of HIE’s aims is to continue to realise Scotland’s commercial ambitions. In the past two years, HIE’s innovation team has supported 500+ local organisations and awarded 30 small business grants, totalling over £270,000.
Gillian Galloway, HIE’s head of innovation is focused on ensuring innovation makes a positive impact for more businesses in Scotland’s Highlands and Islands. She said: “It’s crucial for companies to embrace innovation if they want to remain competitive in their market.
“Innovation can take many shapes and forms. From the big eureka moments like Air BnB, to a smart technology like Amazon Alexa or something on the scale of Laggan Dam’s hydro power. However, some of the best innovations can come from small usability changes to existing products, new ways to deliver services to customers or improving internal processes. Whilst these changes may appear relatively small the overall impact they can have can be huge.”
Crùbag, an Oban-based textile company inspired by marine research, has been working with HIE’s Innovation Team since the company’s inception.
Owner and founder, Jessica Giannott, said: “HIE has always been on my side from the very beginning. I’ve benefited from their courses, mentorship, network introductions and small grant funding. It’s been a generous, very human, informative experience. An essential one too, as often businesses are left to fend for them themselves, but partnering with HIE gives you that extra edge.
“For me innovation is something that should always be present in our business discussions. If we don’t solve problems we become stagnant.”
Gillian Galloway added: “We have the right team of people to provide solid innovation advice, deconstructing the process into simple to apply tips. We offer year-round opportunities for funding and hope that our initiative will get more businesses interested and eager to make positive changes.
“We know that time can be a key challenge for companies exploring innovation, with concerns about the effort involved proving worthwhile. Our ‘HIE time to innovate’ campaign aims to address these concerns.”