From left: Programme trainers Danny Meaney, Andy Kelly and Steven Thomas (photo taken pre-Covid-19). Photo: Paul Campbell/HIE.

Aquaculture entrepreneurs get a virtual push start

An established business support programme that nurtures growth in life sciences and technology begins a completely virtual run with six businesses and entrepreneurs from the Highlands’ aquaculture sector today.

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They make up the fifth group to be mentored by the Pathfinder Accelerator programme developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The programme was planned to be held in Fort William, but with face to face sessions unable to take place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the sessions will now be hosted virtually.

Andrea McColl: Programme assists with networking and expert insight.

Online sessions

Andrea McColl, senior development manager for life sciences at HIE, said: “We are delighted that we can support this group of businesses using online support sessions, allowing them to move forward with their ideas and gain the support required.” 

All of the participants in the group share the common theme of developing or innovating a product within the aquaculture and water sectors. This will allow the group to support each other with peer learning and share their specialist knowledge, said HIE.

The businesses taking part are:

  • Sgurr Services Ltd: Innovative kelp ‘forest’ that reduces stress for cleaner fish that combat sea lice in salmon cages
  • Climavore CIC: Intertidal regenerative aquaculture farm to expand the use of organisms that are low on the food chain
  • SAMS Research Services Ltd (SRSL Ltd): Two teams will work on different products:

- a device that measures the depth of ice and snow remotely

- a software tool that predicts the impact of salmon fish farm waste discharge on the seabed

  • Phycofoods Ltd: Algae-based nutrition products
  • McPherson Atlantic Ltd: Seaweed-based foods and snacks produced using multi-species aquaculture

12-week course

The 12-week course is designed to enable participants to develop their sustainable business model, or launch a new product saving both time and money.

The programme allows participants to test business ideas in a focused environment, identify new routes to market and develop their sales pitch. A further 12 weeks of coaching and mentoring is offered to help the start-ups and budding entrepreneurs develop contacts, source funding and plan for future growth.

Participants will benefit from dedicated experienced business coaches, tailored workshops and seminars, the opportunity to engage with life sciences and technology experts.  

Expert insight

McColl said: “Commercial success of any new idea depends on a strong business model and being able to reach the right market.

“The Pathfinder programme not only guides companies and start-ups through this process but assists with networking and expert insight. Our delivery partners, The Leadership Factory and UP Accelerator, have worked with a number of leading businesses and having access to their experience and contacts is incredibly valuable for our participants.”