A business support programme aimed at developing the next generation of entrepreneurs is to be extended across the Highlands and Islands.
IMPACT30 is currently operated by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) in the Highland Council area, as part of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal.
Delivered on HIE’s behalf by AAB Consulting, it offers bespoke support from industry specialists to people age 35 and under who are in key decision-making roles in young ambitious businesses.
The young business leaders benefit from 12 months of personalised coaching and mentoring, just-in-time training, and collaborative learning with other participants.
HIE has approved a further investment of £100,000 to make the programme accessible to businesses in the Northern and Western Isles, Moray, Argyll and Bute, and North Ayrshire.
The investment will be targeted at helping young people develop commercial and employment opportunities as part of the region’s economic recovery.
IMPACT30 forms part of the Northern Innovation Hub, a project led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) with £11m from the UK Government and £1.7m ERDF support as part of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal.
So far, the programme has run four times in Highland.
Forty-nine businesses have taken part, including 19 currently in the programme.
The average age of participants is 30 and the average age of their businesses is less than a year.
Extending IMPACT30 across the region is expected to benefit at least another ten businesses over the next year in addition to those in the Highland Council area.
Claire Munro, HIE’s senior project manager for the Northern Innovation Hub, said:
“Entrepreneurship is a key driver for successful business development and economic growth.
“Supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs is essential to future job opportunities, inward investment and community resilience.
“IMPACT30 is about strengthening entrepreneurship to create a more robust and resilient economy, as well as improving business skills and supporting a confident workforce.
“By extending the programme, we’ll be able to build on its success so far and widen the impacts across the whole region.
“We look forward to welcoming the next cohort for onboarding in January.”
Mark Bell, director of economic development at AAB Consulting, said:
“IMPACT30 welcomed 19 new businesses in August.
“It was great to feel how energised they all are about fighting the uncertainty head on.
“Our immediate task is to help them focus their energy on the things that are most important today, and that they are building their resilience in a way that they can respond to disruptions tomorrow, of which there will be many.
“Each business benefits from having an individual coach, a network to share and learn from, and other subject matter experts on hand to help with discreet challenges.”
The Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal is a joint £315 million initiative supported by both the UK and Scottish governments.