Highland Opportunity welcomes €400,000 StArt-App project to the Highlands

Highland Opportunity this week hosted 24 delegates at a Round Table event in Inverness as part of StArt-App – a €400,000 project aimed at providing young people and adults with tools to enable them to start up and continue in business in the cultural and creative sectors.

The only British partner in the project, Highland Opportunity hosted workshops, research and discussion events, and a reception at Inverness Town House for delegates from nine European project partners from Italy, Greece, Denmark, Hungary, Portugal and Croatia.

The main objective of the visit – which took place between 31 March and 1 April – was to exchange best practices, undertake research, increase staff expertise, and enhance international collaboration – all with the aim of helping more local people start up and continue in businesses in the cultural and creative sectors.

Funded under the LEONARDO Transfer of Innovation Programme, the StArt-App project aims to promote an enterprise culture within the cultural and creative sectors, increase international collaboration for business support providers and entrepreneurs; and develop practical and effective tools to assist them.

In addition, businesses will benefit from two technical tools developed by the project: an online social platform and a new mobile phone app. These will be designed to enhance entrepreneurial and employment opportunities for creative enterprises and the cultural sector across the EU.

Marie Mackintosh, Chief Executive of Highland Opportunity, said: “Creative industries are of great value to the Highlands. There are roughly 1,670 local businesses in this sector and, whilst these are typically very small enterprises, they provide 13,285 jobs and cover a diverse range – from architecture, to film and video, to fashion design, to publishing, to music. The sector currently accounts for 5% of the Highland economy, and it is growing year on year.

“Having Highland Opportunity as a StArt-App project partner is therefore a real boost for the local area. Local businesses and organisations have been consulted and will therefore be well represented in the development of the support tools, they will be involved in the testing of these devices, and really stand to benefit from the programme’s outcomes. We are also learning a lot from our European partners, which we can roll out into our wider work.”

Highland Opportunity – the Enterprise Trust for the Highlands – was invited to become a project partner due to its experience of working with European partners in previous projects. The organisation also has expertise in promoting and supporting enterprises, particularly in rural areas; and its local network of partners. This has equipped the organisation with much of the sectoral expertise and networks required for this project.

David Knight, Highland Opportunity’s Senior Business Manager for Business Gateway, has been coordinating the visit. He said: “It has been a really successful few days. The project partners have been busy meeting with local organisations and identifying the needs of entrepreneurs and businesses in the creative industries, and working together to see how we can create new instruments to support entrepreneurs in the cultural and creative sectors across the EU. The delegates have really enjoyed learning about our local culture and identifying how we can play a significant role in the project.”

As well as visiting Highland Print Studio and Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, the delegates were invited to a reception at Inverness Town House in Inverness on Monday evening that showcased some successful local projects and initiatives, and gave a flavour of the local culture. The visitors were welcomed by Councillor Jimmy Gray, Convener of The Highland Council.

The event was also attended by local enterprises supported by Highland Opportunity and representatives from support agencies, including Prince’s Trust Youth Business Scotland, Emergents, Enterprise Europe Network, CREATE, Highland Print Studio and Farr High School. 

Councillor Jimmy Gray, Convener of The Highland Council, said: “The event really showed the richness and value of the cultural and creative sectors in the Highlands, and how these businesses are being supported. It is testament to the potential of our region and the expertise of Highland Opportunity, that they have been selected as a project partner. That being said, the reception also highlighted the opportunities to assist more businesses in these industries to really harness their potential. StArt-App should be a great step in this direction and it is fantastic that the Highlands are so involved in its development.”

For more information, please contact Donald MacKenzie on 01463 228351 ord onald.mackenzie@highland-opportunity.com

1 Apr 2014
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