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Lochaber Ideas Week Returns to Fort William After a Two-Year Covid Hiatus

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Pictured: Lisa Wharton and Mark Gibbings, from Lochaber Chamber of Commerce, immerse themselves in the finer details of the Lochaber Ideas Week programme. Picture by Brodie Hood.

Jump back into the deep end to celebrate business innovation, resilience and inspiration.

Lochaber Chamber of Commerce is delighted to announce the return of Lochaber Ideas Week, its flagship week of events to inspire, educate and motivate the business and wider community of Lochaber and the Highlands, from Monday 15 November to Friday 19 November 2021.

The seventh outing of this popular fixture in the annual business and community calendar, slimmed-down and covid-safe for 2021, will bring the local business community together not only to focus on and celebrate the power of ideas, but also to inspire and inform.

In partnering with West Highland College UHI’s Advancing Manufacturing Centre, Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre, Ben Nevis Distillery, Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) West Highland and BSW Timber, Lochaber Ideas Week will offer exclusive opportunities to promote business growth, while encouraging the community back into the swing of sociable, safe, and in-person business focussed events.

CEO of Lochaber Chamber of Commerce, Frazer Coupland, said:

“We can’t wait to immerse ourselves once again in a week of events that brings the business community together in a covid-safe way. 

“I am delighted that the base for our events this year will be Ben Nevis Distillery and we look forward to welcoming our members and community along to a great week of inspiration and insight, culminating in our grand finale Gala Dinner on Friday night.”

Lochaber Ideas Week 2021 programme of events, mostly free-to-attend, include:

Monday 15th November – 15:00 – 19:00 – Lochaber Chamber Premium Members Event at Advancing Manufacturing Centre, Ocean Frontier, Marine Walk, Fort William PH33 6FF

In celebration of the official opening of West Highland College UHI’s Advancing Manufacturing Centre (AMC), Premium Members are being invited to the new centre where they can speak to the experts about ways this facility can help improve and enhance their business.

The new AMC provides free advanced manufacturing technology and expertise for small to medium businesses within the West Highlands and wider HIE areas. 

It offers free access to equipment and technology or professional management input into research, development or design. 

They also offer portable equipment and provide face-to-face onsite training.

Tuesday 16th November – Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) West Highland Schools Event at AMC, Ocean Frontier, Marine Walk, Fort William PH33 6FF

At this exclusive event, young people will have the opportunity to learn about the future of manufacturing and what Lochaber has to offer.

Wednesday 17th November – Aquaculture Day at Ben Nevis Distillery, Lochy Bridge, Fort William PH33 6TJ

The Aquaculture Day celebrates innovation in this key growth industry for Lochaber and is targeted towards sector professionals interested in aquaculture innovations for sustainability, training and recruiting for tomorrow’s aquaculture sector.

The event is presented in collaboration with the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre.

Thursday 18th November – Tourism Day at Ben Nevis Distillery, Lochy Bridge, Fort William PH33 6TJ

The Tourism Day offers the opportunity to celebrate the resilience and inspiration of Lochaber’s biggest industry.

Sustainability is the key to the future of tourism and delegates will reflect on what they have learned from the challenges of the last 18 months and what future trends will shape the visitor economy of tomorrow to make sure the local tourism industry is ready for the future.

Scottish tourism businesses are invited to join the discussion and hear from inspiring speakers.

Laurence Young of Woodlands Glencoe (recent winner of Scottish Small Business of the Year award) will be the compère for the day’s activities.

Friday 19th November

BSW Timber Tours – 09:00 and 13:00 – at BSW Timber, K2 Sawmill, Corpach, Fort William PH33 7NJ

An exclusive tour behind the scenes at BSW Timber.

BSW Timber is one of Lochaber’s biggest and busiest local employers, one of seven UK sawmills in the largest integrated forestry business in the UK.

This is a fantastic and rare opportunity both businesses and the general public to go behind the scenes of the operation that manufactures and supplies a wide range of quality, FSC®-certified sawn products and co-products for an array of industries, and is committed to supporting sustainable forestry.

Tours at 09:00 and 13:00 last approximately 1.5 – 2 hours.

Only 30 places available on each tour.

AMC Open Day – 11:00 – 15:00 – at AMC, Ocean Frontier, Marine Walk, Fort William PH33 6FF

The AMC will be throwing open its doors all day for a special ‘behind the scenes’ look around the Centre as they look ahead to becoming a drop-in hub for anyone looking to bring their business ideas to life. 

The Open day will include:

On-the-hour Centre tours so you can see all the machinery and software on offer.

Find out what it could do for you and all at zero cost! 

To book a tour please contact Margaret Weir or Andy Harpur on amc.whc@uhi.ac.uk.

Meet the equipment makers – who will give demonstrations so you can see the equipment in action.

WHC business team will be there to discuss all your training and funding support needs.

Samples of products designed and created by AMC will be on display to showcase the art of the possible.

Ideas Week Gala Dinner at Ben Nevis Distillery, Lochy Bridge, Fort William PH33 6TJ

It’s time to get dressed up (again) and join the celebrations with fellow Chamber Members and your friends from work at the Lochaber Ideas Week Gala Dinner 202, featuring fabulous local food and drink in a delicious seven-course taster menu.

For everyone’s comfort and safety, numbers are limited to 96 attendees.

Don’t miss your chance to enjoy a black-tie night.

Bookings for all events are now open. 

To find out more about all the events taking place during Lochaber Ideas Week 2021 and to book tickets click here or email membership@lochaberchamber.co.uk, or call 01397 705 765 to chat to a member of the team. 

All events are free to attend, with the exception of the Ideas Week Gala Dinner, and are open to non-Chamber members.

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