BUDDING Ross-shire entrepreneurs could win cash to turn their business idea into a reality by entering the 2017 Inverness College UHI Business Competition.
A recent winner from Ross-shire is urging others to take part.
Organised by Create, UHI’s Centre for Enterprise and Innovation, the competition now in its 12th year supports and encourages people to take their first steps to starting their own business.
The competition is open to students studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands and non-students living in the Highlands and Islands. Last year it attracted more than 130 entries.
Carol Langston, head of Create, said: “This competition was launched to encourage more students and members of the public to explore opportunities in enterprise and innovation. We really want to hear from anyone with a creative business idea, and that could be commercial or one that has a social impact. Don’t worry if it’s nothing more than an idea, CREATE is here to help entrepreneurs develop their ideas and take them forward, with the eventual aim of encouraging more start-ups. We have been really impressed by the wealth of entrepreneurial flair in the past and we expect this year to be no exception.”
Entries will be shortlisted to 15 and finalists will be invited to meet CREATE to discuss their idea further at the finals day of the competition at Inverness College UHI in November.
Judging this year’s competition will be Stewart Thomson, regional manager for youth charity The Prince’s Trust, Brenda Dunthorne, director of adventure specialists In Your Element (formerly Boots N Paddles), and Brian Weaver, of Impact Hub Inverness.
Winners in the various categories will share a pot of £5000 and finalists will be offered a one-to-one with the Create team and guidance to develop their business idea.
Supporting this year’s competition is former winner and Inverness College UHI student David Plested. Mr Plested was in the second year of the BA (Hons) visual communication and design degree when he decided to enter the competition with his idea for a picture book for children. Drawing on the myth and legend of The Fairy Glen near his home on the Black Isle, The Fairy Glen School for Fairies also aims to encourage children’s learning and curiosity about wildlife and the natural environment, with five per cent from each book sold going to the RSPB.
“Winning the business competition gave me publicity and allowed me to produce a run of 400, which really got the book off the ground,” Mr Plested (25) said. “It was also a real confidence boost for me. I’d encourage anyone with an idea or business concept to apply – you’ve absolutely nothing to lose and it could just be the start of something really special.”
He hopes to publish a second book in the series later this year and has plans to develop a website, educational games and apps to teach children about the natural world.
Also backing the competition is former competition judge Gordon Pearson, owner of WOW Scotland Tours, who has delivered talks on running your own business to students at Inverness College UHI. He said: “WOW Scotland started off as a business plan written in an entrepreneurship class, where I had the opportunity of pitching to a panel of business experts. This gave me the confidence and motivation to turn the idea into a reality and is why I am fully behind the Create Business Competition.”
To enter visit www.createhighland.com and complete a simple online application. The closing date is October 31.