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University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) business competition offers support to budding entrepreneurs

By Gregor White

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Matej Papp won a prize for his boxing gym idea last year.
Matej Papp won a prize for his boxing gym idea last year.

The 2022 University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) business competition has just opened for entries, with £8000 in prize money up for grabs.

The competition is open to anyone living in the Highlands and Islands, Moray or Perthshire, as well as all students studying across the UHI partnership.

Now in its 16th year, the competition, run by the CREATE centre for remote and sustainable communities based at Inverness College UHI, encourages enterprise and innovation by supporting people to take their first steps to starting their own business.

All finalists receive feedback and support from top entrepreneurs and business advisors.

The competition has received more than 1600 entries since it started, and awarded more than £86,000 in prizes.

The closing date for entries is noon on March 23 after which a shortlist of 15 will be drawn up, the finalists then invited to meet competition judges to discuss their ideas further on finals day on May 25.

Last year’s top prize went to Simon Hay of Fortrose for his idea featuring a vertical freight farming system designed to grow sustainable crops in Scotland year-round.

Vicky Johnson, director of CREATE , said: “The University of the Highlands and Islands partnership has a key role to play in supporting the region’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Encouraging and enabling entrepreneurship will play a key role in that recovery. We have seen this business competition change people’s lives by providing them with the confidence and support they need to turn their idea into a reality.”

There are also special cash prizes for the best engineering ideas, with these awards sponsored by the Engineers in Business Fellowship, a charity promoting the importance and value of business education for engineers.

Matej Papp and Ahmed Nassar took home a £1000 prize last year with their business, Boxfluence, and their idea for a transportable and lightweight portable boxing ring called GoSparTM.

Matej, a personal trainer from Inverness, said: “The UHI business competition is an opportunity to showcase your dreams and passions. Winning the engineering award gave us the confidence to keep growing and to take our business to the next level, knowing that there are people out there that support our vision.”

David Falzani MBE, President of Engineers in Business Fellowship, said: "Research tells us that equipping young engineers with business skills makes them better engineers, more employable and more effective in the workplace. The Engineers in Business prize fund, which the university has awarded over the past four years, allows the university to inspire more undergraduates, graduates and entrepreneurs in the wider community to take part in its annual business competition."

In addition to the Engineers in Business Fellowship the business competition continues to receive invaluable sponsorship and support from Johnston Carmichael, Harper Macleod LLP, The Apprentice Store, Northern Innovation Hub, HBS Ring Ltd and James Hendry Plumbing.

Apply at www.createhighland.com/learners/competition

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