Entries are now open for the 2022 University of the Highlands and Islands business competition.
Budding entrepreneurs with a business idea are invited to apply, with £8000 in prize money up for grabs.
The competition is open to anyone living in the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Perthshire, as well as all students studying across the University of the Highlands and Islands partnership.
Now in its 16th year, the business competition, run by CREATE, part of the centre for remote and sustainable communities based at Inverness College UHI, 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 12 noon on Wednesday 23 March. Entries will be shortlisted to 15 and finalists will be invited to meet the competition judges to discuss their ideas further on finals day on Wednesday 25 May.
Last year's top prize went to Simon Hay, from Fortrose, and his idea featuring a vertical freight farming system designed to grow sustainable crops in Scotland year-round. Simon took home a cash prize of £1000 and a combined legal and accountancy package from sponsors' Johnston Carmichael and Harper Macleod LLP.
Vicky Johnson, director of centre for remote and sustainable communities, 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."
Once again there will be special cash prizes for the best engineering ideas, with these awards sponsored by the Engineers in Business Fellowship, a charity that promotes 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 University of the Highlands 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.
The University of the Highlands and Islands Business Competition has attracted more than 1600 entries since it launched 16 years ago and has awarded more than £86,000 in cash prizes.