Case Study

Supporting Innovation in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland with HIE

HIE and The Leadership Factory


UP, together with our delivery partners The Leadership Factory, has a long-standing partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Northern Innovation Hub. We deliver a range of accelerators and innovation sprints across the region. Each programme is tailored to fit the individual cohort needs.

What we've created

UP Managing Partner, Steven Thomas, has designed a programme framework that can be delivered both in-person and online.

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

The Pathfinder Accelerator programme was made possible by HIE’s Northern Innovation Hub (NIH), as part of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal to help SMEs in the Highland Council area to improve their businesses through innovation.

The NIH project received £11m from the UK Government and £1.7m ERDF support as part of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal. The Deal is a joint £315 million initiative supported by both the UK and Scottish governments.

For those interested in future Pathfinder sessions, please visit to register your interest.

To discuss how UP can help you deliver impactful innovation programmes in the public and private sector, please contact Managing Partner Steven Thomas.

Main image L-R: Danny Meaney (UP Founder), Andy Kelly (Director, The Leadership Factory) and Steven Thomas (Managing Partner, UP)

“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, UP Ventures and The Leadership Factory, have worked with a number of leading businesses and having access to their experience and contacts is incredibly valuable for our participants.”

Andrea McColl, senior development manager for life sciences at HIE
Think. Inspire. Do.
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