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19th February 2007

Small businesses and entrepreneurs throughout Caithness and Sutherland are being urged to grasp a unique opportunity to help boost future company growth, by tapping into a ready-made resource based within UHI Millennium Institute that helps companies crystallise opportunities to move the business forward.

This free service - a ground-breaking university-based initiative called HI Links, is a three-year project funded by a SEEKIT grant from the Scottish Executive, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and UHI. It helps source academic help to aid company research and development, service enhancement and to build a stronger, leaner business through a wide range of innovative practices and techniques, as Dr Joe Irvine, HI
Links Project Leader, explains; "Small companies throughout Caithness and Sutherland often don't have the luxury of researching new business opportunities, so HI Links will help overcome that and introduce businesses that approach us to academic experts that will help them plan for the future.

Often, small businesses have great ideas but lack the time, money or personnel resource to bring these ideas to fruition. HI Links can help address these issues by accessing funding schemes specific for academic collaboration - this can provide up to two-thirds funding - and in addition, can cover the cost of personnel to work within a company."

HI Links works at a local, regional and national level. If, for example, Northern Highland College or The Environmental Research Institute does not have the appropriate academic expertise, HI Links will find it either through the local UHI partner network or via other
academic institutions throughout Scotland.

Joe Irvine concludes; "We in the Highlands and Islands should be proud to have pioneered an entrepreneurial initiative that is being watched closely nationally -
where companies, particularly small and micro businesses are being offered a wonderful opportunity to attain effective growth.

We have a vibrant indigenous academic sector and I would urge companies throughout Caithness and Sutherland to look upon this as a business resource of knowledge, expertise and know-how that can help their business prosper."

More information on HI Links can be found at


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