Businesses across the Highlands and Islands will have access to a 24-hour innovation helpline this Friday, as Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) kick starts an innovation movement to help businesses flourish in the region.
Launching on Innovation Day this year (February 16), the ‘HIE time to innovate’ #HIEtime campaign will provide companies with the tools to get their own creative visions off the ground. With 24 hours dedicated to innovation, local businesses will have access to a free 24-hour hotline, opportunities to book one-to-one consultations with innovation experts and the chance to apply for a slice of £24,000 of funding.
One of HIE’s aims is to continue to realise Scotland’s commercial ambitions, where innovation is a fundamental driver of long-term competitiveness and lies at the heart of the country’s Economic Strategy. In the past two years, HIE’s innovation team has supported more than 500 local organisations and awarded 30 small business grants, totalling over £270,000.
As a result of the small injection of funding, HIE has directly increased employment by almost 80. The ‘HIE time to innovate’ #HIEtime campaign aims to build on these successes by extending the support, to the as yet untapped pool of businesses that could benefit from innovation.’
Gillian Galloway, HIE’s head of innovation is focused on ensuring innovation makes a positive impact for more businesses in the 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, a textile company inspired by marine research and oceans and based in Oban, has been working with HIE’s innovation team since the company’s inception. The owner and founder, Jessica Giannotti comments on the partnership:
“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 businesses are often left to fend for 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.”
Galloway continues: “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’ #HIEtime campaign aims to address these concerns.
“International best practice indicates that all businesses can benefit from innovation support, regardless of their size, sector or location. Being innovative can ultimately make your business more profitable so it makes sense for companies to integrate this into their workings.”
Starting on Friday 16 February, with 24-hours dedicated to innovation, ‘HIE time to innovate’ #HIEtime will roll out a number of campaign initiatives, ranging from digital content provided by online experts, peer influencers and industry leaders to hyper localised events delivering networking opportunities to local communities.