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Caithness.org News Bulletins -  November 2002

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Three highlands and islands research projects to share 150,000 innovation prize The three winners in a major business research competition have been confirmed as Biolitec Pharma on the Isle of Lewis, Map Maker Ltd in Argyll, and the Agronomy Research Institute in Orkney. They will now share a 150,000 prize to help turn their projects into reality.

The Research Challenge Fund was established by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to benefit small to medium sized enterprises and research groups in the Highlands and Islands. The winners were selected from an original list of 38 applicants and a shortlist of 11.

The competition focussed on early stage research and development work and is primarily intended to help convert these early ideas into well-formed product or process concepts, and to help them reach their full potential.  HIE's innovation unit manager Ruaraidh MacNeil said: "Throughout Scotland a key priority is getting research ideas 'out of the labs and into the businesses' and that's exactly what this challenge fund is all about.  Companies and research organisations in the Highlands and Islands have some excellent ideas with real potential, but which all too often take too long to exploit or get overtaken by events. The aim of the challenge is to help overcome this and we are working to encourage innovation in all its forms for the benefit of our economy and workforce.

"There were some very impressive projects put forward and the three winners are to be congratulated on the quality of their applications and the level of innovation. The prize money will now be used to develop these ideas into commercially viable ventures."