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New space for entrepreneurs and social enterprises opens in Inverness

Inverness Impact Hub is based close to the city's historic castle.
Inverness Impact Hub is based close to the city's historic castle.

Scotland’s first Impact Hub, offering entrepreneurs and social enterprises work space and international networking opportunities, has opened in Inverness.

The new facility has joined a network of 80 others around the world, with more than 15,000 members.

It has been set up by social enterprise support and development body Highlands and Islands Social Enterprise Zone (Hisez) with £25,000 backing from the Scottish Government.

For monthly fees ranging from £5 to £200, members can use shared work space and resources at the organisation’s Castle Street offices and collaborate with the wider Impact Hub membership in the UK and abroad.

Hisez said that, although the aims of the individual hubs that form the network vary, their main role is to “encourage, support and inspire people to make a social impact through enterprise.”

Before gaining Impact Hub status, the social enterprise body undertook a three-month trial during which it promoted the model to its contacts throughout the Highlands and Islands.

Hisez chief executive Brian Weaver said: “Becoming an Impact Hub is a big deal for us and a big deal for the area. In this era of Brexit, and with the uncertainty of markets, this is a positive step for small businesses and social entrepreneurs.

“Here is a great opportunity for people in Benbecula or Brora to learn and potentially work with people in Belgrade or Brazil; there are endless possibilities. It allows global connections to be made and for learning to be shared across the globe.”

Mr Weaver said as the first Impact Hub with a regional licence, it had a “big job to do” to attract members “from the Western Isles to the Northern Isles and the far reaches of the Highland mainland.”

“Membership is very flexible to fit with what people want and we encourage anyone who is interested in renting desk space or a meeting room to come try it out and see for themselves what we can offer,” he added.

The launch of the new facility was welcomed by Scottish Government Communities Secretary Angela Constance.

She said:  “Scotland has more than 5,000 social enterprises, which blend social and business objectives and chime with our ambitions for a fairer society.

“Quality co-working spaces like these will help thousands more social entrepreneurs to collaborate, learn from each other and start new enterprises.”

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