Over 600 students from Lews Castle College UHI and the wider University of the Highlands and Islands network gained an insight into the world of business and entrepreneurship at the first Highland Innovation Festival launched this month.
Organised by Create, the centre for enterprise and innovation at Inverness College UHI, the Highland Innovation Festival is a programme of events and workshops which aims to make enterprise and innovation an all-year round fixture in the student calendar.
Also, by bringing students face to face with the region’s most inspiring and innovative business people, the festival helps participants prepare for the future by providing valuable tips on how to impress employers, boost their CV and start their own business.
This week’s programme included audiences with well-known business people from around the Highlands and Islands, most notably Richard Davies from Wild West Beef Jerky in Lewis, who spoke to students about the challenges of the early years, the importance of building a team with complementary skills and experience in order to grow, and the differences between a lifestyle business and a saleable one.
Richard commented: “I had little confidence when I was younger and I just want everyone to know they can do it. Captains of industry started somewhere and we are all capable of it if we really want to achieve a successful business career. I hope the students take that one thing away and keep learning.”
Throughout the entire week, students and staff from all University of the Highlands and Islands institutions were able to get involved in the majority of events regardless of location, via a live video conferencing link.
This meant that students could learn about enterprising development in all corners of the region, reflecting Create’s ongoing collaboration with University of the Highlands and Islands partners to build an enterprise network – a university and college-wide resource for students and staff.
Carol Langston, Head of Create, believes this is an excellent opportunity for students, as it will help them prepare for the demands of the modern workplace as well as build strong foundations on which to build a successful career.
She explained: “Employers tell us that they are keen for graduates to be ‘workplace ready’, able to hit the ground running, show initiative, take responsibility and communicate professionally to help their businesses grow.
“These types of events can really help drive forward student development, providing inspiration to aim high, and opportunities for them to build on their skills and contacts in advance of graduation.
“We look forward to growing this type of activity by launching a range of exciting new innovation and enterprise themed initiatives and partnerships at our enterprise centre when we move to the new Inverness College UHI building at Inverness Campus.”
A series of events will take place throughout the year as part of the Highland Innovation Festival. For more information: visit