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We started off the year with good news about our office purchase and we are finishing the year with more glad tidings! HISEZ has been chosen to take forward the legacy of Fusion, to help and support the entrepreneurs of the Highlands and Islands. HISEZ is delighted to be taking on this role - read all about it below. Our tenth anniversary year as a Community Interest Company has been great and fills us with hope for the future.  
We have got information on the new Catalyst Learning Programme for entrepreneurs, which we first told you about in our October edition, and this will be kicking off in the new year too. 

And if you're in Sheltand on 12 January come and join us for our free networking lunch on the topic 'Opportunities for Growth'. We are ideally placed to advise you on growth, we haven't stopped all year!


Shetland - Opportunities for Growth
12 January 12-2.30pm
Market House, Lerwick, Shetland.
Book your place here

This event is brought to you in association with Just Enterprise.

The Fusion Legacy 
Fusion was established in 2002 to support the development of entrepreneurship across the Highlands and Islands. The project itself recently came to an end but the Fusion board were keen that their work in supporting entrepreneurs should continue for as long as possible. They asked groups with an interest to bid for the remaining funds and HISEZ were succesful in being chosen to take on the role and to leave a lasting legacy for Fusion.  HISEZ will now support the networking and the education of entrepreneurs, throughout the Highlands and Islands.

From January 2016 HISEZ will offer the following services to entrepreneurs:
  • A free Fusion hot-desk for use by entrepreneurs from the area and beyond, located in the Fusion Zone at 67a Castle Street, Inverness.  The desk is bookable and available from an hour to a month at a time, on a first book, first served basis.  
  • An annual Fusion business lunch.  Keep an eye on our Facebook page and website for more information.
  • A Fusion Entrepreneur's Award as part of the UHI CREATE new business ideas competition.  The prize of £1000 will be for a budding entrepreneur who can prove to us that they have raised £2,000 from at least four other sources in the previous 30 days.  
  • The Fusion Fund of £1000 will offer grants towards the professional development of new entrepreneurs. The fund is flexible and can be used, for example, to buy training, books, tools, or to pay towards travel costs for a conference or study visit.  Awards are between £50 and £200 and will be awarded on a first come, first served basis annually, with a minimum of fuss and paperwork. The simple application form and a guidance note can be  accessed via the HISEZ website.
  • The establishment of a Fusion Education Fund will enable us to support sessions on social enterprise and finance in schools, colleges, and other arenas with young people, such as Young Enterprise Scotland (YES), across the Highlands and Islands.
  • £1000 each year is available to enable more schools to register with YES by offering a contribution to the start-up funds required.  The funds must be repaid at the end of the year to ensure sustainability of the fund.
  • £500 is available each year to enable school children to travel to enterprise events.  This could be used by YES but also by other projects, and in some cases may simply be the provision of funding up front which will be reimbursed later.
  • To encourage those who have started a school-based business to consider taking it forward as a serious business, £500 a year will also be available. This money is highly flexible and could be used for any or more of the following: to buy products which could then be sold in local social enterprise shops; to fund the commercial manufacture of the product; to investigate the franchising of the model; to buy the entire business which might then be expanded or sold to a third party; or to fund the founders to enable them to continue the business through their student years.
  • A HISEZ Fusion book on selling will be written and published. Would-be entrepreneurs often struggle with selling and the guide that is produced will be targeted specifically at the Highlands and Islands market.
If any of these services has sparked your interest then get in touch. You can call us on 01463 715533 or email us:
Catalyst Learning Programme for Entrepreneurs

Do you want to grow your business? Want to be inspired?

Catalyst offers training tailored for small businesses and social enterprises throughout the Highlands and Islands. Developed by organisations and businesses just like yours and with your needs in mind. The Catalyst programme will:
  • Develop your entrepreneurial skills;
  • Improve your leadership practices and the productivity of your business;
  • Apply proven methods to analyse, develop and trial ideas to grow your business; 
  • Share ideas for growth – proven to work by local entrepreneurs; and
  • Present focussed content in an engaging format.
Developed to suit the needs of those in rural areas, Catalyst offers a choice of delivery format, and has input from many local small business innovators, including social enterprises.
The programme will run over 6 x 3 hour sessions, between April and June 2016, either through face-2-face workshops in Inverness, or by virtual delivery at scheduled times. There will be no cost to participants on the Catalyst pilot programme.
The programme has been developed and is led by CREATE, Inverness College UHI's Centre for Enterprise and Innnovation, in partnership with Inverness Chamber of Commerce, HISEZ and MAKAR.
For more information, or to apply for one of the limited places, contact:, call 01463 273282 or visit the website today. 
UHI Create Awards - The Winners 2015

The winners of the UHI CREATE new business idea competition were announced last month at an awards ceremony which took place at the newly opened UHI campus.

The competition organised by CREATE (the centre for innovation and enterprise at Inverness College UHI) in partnership with Business Gateway Highland and Moray, HISEZ and support from local businesses and organisations attracted 113 entries this year. These were narrowed down to 15 finalists who had to pitch their business idea to the judging panel for their chance to win.

Out of 15 finalists the winners were:
  • Top Prize £1500 and Best Commercial Idea £1000 – David Plested from Fortrose
  • Best Social Enterprise Idea £1000 – Deborah Wilson from Drumnadrochit (Pictured below receiving her award from HISEZ CEO Brian Weaver)
  • Best Student Idea £1000 – Jade King from Nairn
  • Best Cultural and Heritage Business Idea £1000 – Ragnhild Ljosland from Orkney 
  • Most Innovative Idea £1000 and Best Engineering & Technology Idea £500 – Anna Renouf from Rogart.
  • Best Researched Idea £500 – Reina Edmiston from Inverness
  • Best Presentation £500 – Kerry Hawthorne from Dingwall
  • Youth Entrepreneurship Award £200 – Eilidh Johnston and Jack Leonard from Gairloch High School (Pictured below receiving their award from Mary Riddoch HISEZ)

Sustainable Development Fund

Community organisations across the Highland region are being urged to bid into SSE’s Sustainable Development Fund which re-opened at the end of November.
Groups have until 20 January to register an interest in the £1m fund, which is provided as part of SSE’s community benefit programme for its onshore wind farms.
Applications of over £10,000 will be accepted from non-profit making organisations, community groups and charities based within the Highland local authority boundary. Projects neighbouring SSE’s renewable energy developments will be prioritised.
After registering an interest, applicants will have until 17 February to submit a full application, with funding decisions made public in April 2016.
Successful projects must achieve one of the following outcomes:
  • Theme 1 Creating opportunities:  Create or enhance opportunities for education and employment through activities that develop skills and improve an individual’s chance of entering the workplace. 
  • Theme 2 Empowering communities: Empower communities to become more resilient and protect vulnerable residents through measures which demonstrate long-term social, environmental or economic improvements. This could include energy projects or initiatives which combat the effects of rural isolation. 
  • Theme 3 Sustainable places: Stimulate meaningful regeneration to improve or enhance local infrastructure, landscape, biodiversity or heritage and make a lasting difference to the places we live, work and visit. 
To find out more about the fund, or to download an expression of interest form, follow this link.
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