What is it?

Highlands and Islands Enterprise has developed the Northern Innovation Hub to help SMEs in the Highland Council area improve their businesses through innovation.

The programme will deliver innovative projects in four sectors – Life Sciences, Tourism, Food and Drink and Creative Industries. An additional strand is focussed on Young People and Technology and will provide support to businesses in all sectors.

From one-day workshops to intensive support lasting up to a year, there are a range of fantastic opportunities that have been designed around the needs and aspirations of local businesses. Projects will take place across the Highland Council area and digital delivery will be used to enable participation and reduce time and travel commitments.

Who is it open to?

All SME’s in the Highland Council area, including social enterprises.

How long will it run for?

The projects will initially run for between five and seven years.

When does it start?

The first projects will commence early in 2018 with others becoming available throughout the year.

How do I find out more?

Complete the registration form at the bottom of the page to be kept up to date with projects as they launch.

Young People and Technology

Technology Placements - will provide graduate and student work placements that are focussed on the adoption of new technologies. The project will bring in the additional ideas and knowledge that enable businesses to improve their productivity and competiveness through technology based innovation. The graduate placements will provide opportunities for up to a year. The student placements will provide opportunities which can last a maximum of 12 weeks.

Impact30 - will provide long-term support to young entrepreneurs, to help them establish and grow successful businesses. It will provide mentoring, specialist advice and access to a wide range of industry expertise to help start-ups with high growth potential to overcome the risks and challenges they face in the early stages of their business. Participating entrepreneurs could already be involved with a start-up enterprise or looking to create spin-outs or start-ups from academia or other institutions, by commercialising a product or project.

Coding Academy - will provide a Coding Academy that will deliver an intensive, industry-led course that trains junior software developers. It will ensure that businesses in the area have access to employees with the practical coding skills they need to enable them to make the most of digital technology and become more innovative and competitive.


Digital Tourism - will deliver a broad programme of world class events, networking opportunities and support that helps businesses to make the best use of leading digital technologies in every aspect of their business. This will include a programme of webinars on global trends and digital opportunities. Events will highlight the possibilities provided by new technologies and bring together digital innovators to demonstrate the latest developments in the industry.

Adventure Tourism - will help bring together adventure tourism entrepreneurs to increase their business capability and increase collaboration. Businesses will benefit from a mixture of workshop and one to one support that will take them through a business development tool specifically developed for the adventure sector. It will help them grow through increased collaboration and access to global best practice on aspects such as pricing, distribution, branding, sales and product innovation.

Creative Industries

XpoNorth Digital – will work with the XpoNorth networks and conference, to support the creative industries sector to develop new business models that are focussed on the relationship between producer and consumer. It will give businesses the tools and capability to tailor their products and services to the needs of their customers. Through access to expertise, workshops and digital tools, businesses will be supported to work with their customers to test new product ideas, create new access to finance and increase their profile.

Life Sciences

Pathfinder Accelerator - will provide a business acceleration programme that is focussed on driving the growth of start-ups and early stage life science, health and technology businesses. It will help businesses with the commercialisation of products and services and improve their penetration of domestic and international markets.

NHS Market Ready - will introduce a project which supports SME’s in their ambitions to present, test and trial products and services and secure commercial opportunities with the NHS. It will provide access to the essential NHS decision makers needed to accelerate the process of product development and commercialisation.

Nexus - will provide a physical space for life sciences businesses that incorporates a collaborative environment and product showcasing opportunities for start-ups, new investors and international life science businesses within Aurora House on the Inverness Campus.

Food and Drink

Food and drink projects are also being developed to support innovation, help business to develop products and increase collaboration between industry, academia, research institutes and the public sector. More details on these projects will be announced soon. Please register below for updates.

Find out more

If you are interested in the opportunities provided by the Northern Innovation Hub or would like to be kept up to date with the programme, please access our microsite.

Go to microsite

Existing Support

If you are planning on starting a new business and looking for advice please contact your local Business Gateway advisor in the Highland area.

If you have a business idea that you are looking for advice to develop, have a look at our Innovate Your Business programme to find out more about the support available.

About the Northern Innovation Hub 

The Northern Innovation Hub is part of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal. The Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal is led by the Highland Council and covers the entire Local Authority area. It is comprised of eleven programmes through a significant funding package which invests up to £315m into the regional economy. This programme also receives financial support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Innovation strategic intervention.

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