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Highlands & Islands Enterprise

Highlands and Islands Enterprise offers a wide range of support to businesses, social enterprises and communities. You can see the breadth of ways we might be able to support you at our website https://www.hie.co.uk/support/

We offer support services that are particularly relevant to digital.

XPONORTH: Specialist advice, training, networking and a range of other specialist support to Creative Industries including digital, can be found through XpoNorthhttps://xponorth.co.uk



  • DIGITAL DEVELOPMENT LOAN: is a Scottish Government initiative to help improve Scotland’s digital productivity. It is available to Scottish SMEs, who have been trading at least 6 months to help meet upfront costs of improving digital use.
  • THE DATA LAB INNOVATION CENTRE: The fourth Data Lab Hub in Scotland is now serving the Highlands and islands region by being located in HIE's An Lòchran building on Inverness Campus. The Data Lab has three key priorities: foster innovation through collaboration; build skills and grow talent, and champion Scotland’s data science community.



  • INNOVATE YOUR BUSINESS Expert advice and funding of up to £15,000 is available to SMEs through our Small Innovation Grant Scheme. Your business can apply year-round, it must be based in the Highlands and Islands, and should employ no more than 250 people. The award of this funding is discretionary, with priority given to innovation projects that are directly responding to the COVID-19 crisis. This could be a health-related solution, or something that helps other businesses get back to work - whether through diversification, use of technology, adapting business practices to adjust to the changing economic environment, or developing new products to continue to trade. Where a project has a significant impact on health or economic outcomes, additional funding may be available. Our team of advisers are happy to discuss your ideas and funding requirements so please get in touch.
  • CO-INNOVATE PROGRAMME: Support for businesses based in the west and the islands. The Co-Innovate programme provides innovation advice and funding for businesses in Argyll and the West Highlands and Islands, where it’s not always easy to network and access peer support or expert advice to aid the business growth journey. Support for SMEs includes: One to one specialist advice to create an innovation strategy; R&D Grant funding to work with academia; R&D grant funding to work with another SME. The cross-border initiative means businesses have access to academic and SME expertise from the Republic of Ireland as well.


  • XPONORTH DIGITAL: A dynamic new programme which offers clients specialist advice on how to progress digital use and technology in their business. This strand of support focuses on innovation around the relationship between producer and consumer. It gives clients the tools and capability to carry out faster, and more effective, research and development by engaging productively with your customers. The approach has been designed to develop greater value between you and your customers, encourage deeper levels of interaction between you and your customers, and help you to diversify by tailoring products more closely around your customer's needs. You will work closely with the XpoNorth team - the year-round creative industries network and conference. Together, you'll have the opportunity to further develop digital tools within your business.
  • TECHNOLOGY PLACEMENT: Our technology placement programme offers SMEs in the Highland Council area the opportunity to take on a graduate or student with support covering up to 50% of their salary. A graduate placement is for a period of 12 months with a salary of between £18,500 and £25,000. A student placement would typically last 12 weeks, although timing can be flexible, with a salary in line with the Living Scottish Wage.
  • IMPACT30: is a programme designed to develop young business leaders of the future. It is custom-designed to help you make an impact in your industry. We'll work with you as an individual, focusing on the tools, skills and knowledge required to grow your business and achieve its full potential. We'll connect you with a range of experts who have been there and done it. They'll share their experience and journey with you to help you get the most out of your own business decisions and help you grow.


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