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UHI Cash prize can turn business dream into reality


By Calum MacLeod

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Last year's student winner, nursing student Roma Gibb from Evanton.
Last year's student winner, nursing student Roma Gibb from Evanton.

Budding entrepreneurs have a chance at winning cash prizes in a business competition.

The annual contest, associated with the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), has a prize pot of £8500 up for grabs to help turn a business idea into a reality.

The competition is open to all students studying across the UHI network, as well as non-students living in the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Perthshire.

Now in its 15th year, the competition is run by Create, part of the university’s Centre for Remote and Sustainable Communities based at Inverness College UHI, and encourages enterprise and innovation by supporting people to take their first steps towards starting their own business.

In addition to their cash prize, finalists will also receive feedback from some of the region’s top entrepreneurs and business advisers and get support to take their idea forward.

The main award winner will receive £1000 and a £2000 legal and accountancy package.

Nursing student Roma Gibb, from Evanton, was the latest winner of the best student business accolade with her idea for a night-time assisted positioning aid to help people with mobility problems correct their position in bed.

She used her £1000 prize money, support and advice to drive forward her business.

She said: “I had my idea for a while, and when I found out how easy it was to apply for the competition, I decided to give it a go. It gave me so much confidence in myself and belief in my idea. I now say ‘yes’ more, because you never know where it might lead.

“The business competition is an amazing experience and above all it’s good fun. You’ll meet great people, gain new skills, and you never know where it might take you.”

Postgraduate research students Celia Delugin, Lydia McGill, Alison Martin, Joanna Rodgers, Sunny Bradbury with Odin the dog, and Shraveena Venkatesh join last year's student winner Roma Gibb (front) to launch this year's competition.
Postgraduate research students Celia Delugin, Lydia McGill, Alison Martin, Joanna Rodgers, Sunny Bradbury with Odin the dog, and Shraveena Venkatesh join last year's student winner Roma Gibb (front) to launch this year's competition.

Vicky Johnson, director of the university’s centre for remote and sustainable communities, said: “This competition supports people with ideas to be innovative, ambitious and creative, and helps them take that next step in turning an idea into a reality.

“The pandemic continues to have a huge impact on our communities across the Highlands and Islands. By helping people develop their skills, providing expertise and signposting them to wider networks of support, we can help rebuild our economy and the entrepreneurial thinking that drives it and moves us in a more sustainable direction.”

There is an additional focus on engineering, thanks to sponsorship by Engineers in Business Fellowship (EIBF).

EIBF president David Falzani said: “Research tells us that introducing business education to young engineers and technologists makes them better engineers, makes them more employable, more effective in the workplace and it’s better for the UK economy.

“We are proud to support student innovation, especially as many winners go on to create real businesses that have a positive impact in society.”

The competition also continues to receive sponsorship from Harper Macleod, Impact30 and Johnston Carmichael all of whom offer additional support as part of the prize package.

Scott Jeffrey, partner at Johnston Carmichael, said: “2020 has brought unimaginable personal and economic challenges.

“As we look to 2021, the entrepreneurial spirit celebrated at the UHI Business Competition is more important than ever. We look forward to meeting entrepreneurs and hearing about their new ventures.”

n Apply online at www.createhighland.com/learners/competitions.aspx by noon on March 26,2021.



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