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UHI business competition offers kick-start for budding Moray entrepreneurs

By Lorna Thompson

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BUDDING local entrepreneurs are being urged to enter a competition to help get their business ideas off the ground.

Entries are now open for the 2022 University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) business competition – with £8000 in prize money up for grabs.

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

Run by CREATE, part of the centre for remote and sustainable communities based at Inverness College UHI, the contest encourages enterprise and innovation by supporting people to take their first steps on the road to starting their own business.

All finalists will receive feedback and support from some of the region's top entrepreneurs and business advisors to take their idea forward.

The closing date for entries is noon on Wednesday, March 23.

Entries will be shortlisted to 15 and finalists will be invited to meet the judges to discuss their ideas further on finals day on Wednesday, May 25.

A 2020 winner, Matej Papp, a personal trainer from Inverness, who along with Ahmed Nassar was awarded £1000 for 'Boxfluence' and a portable boxing ring, GoSparTM.
A 2020 winner, Matej Papp, a personal trainer from Inverness, who along with Ahmed Nassar was awarded £1000 for 'Boxfluence' and a portable boxing ring, GoSparTM.

Last year's top prize went to Simon Hay, from Fortrose, for his idea featuring a vertical freight farming system designed to grow sustainable crops in Scotland year-round. Simon took home £1000 and a legal and accountancy package from sponsors Johnston Carmichael and Harper Macleod LLP.

Vicky Johnson, director of the centre for remote and sustainable communities, said: "The UHI 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 will be special cash prizes for the best engineering ideas, with these awards sponsored by the Engineers in Business Fellowship charity.

Matej Papp and Ahmed Nassar won £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."

The competition has attracted more than 1600 entries since it launched 16 years ago and has awarded more than £86,000 in cash prizes. It receives sponsorship and support from Johnston Carmichael, Harper Macleod LLP, The Apprentice Store, Northern Innovation Hub, HBS Ring Ltd and James Hendry Plumbing.

People can apply online at www.createhighland.com/learners/competitions.

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