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Innovative farming business takes top prize UHI Business Competition backed by Harper Macleod

Green Space Farms, the company behind a farming system that will enable sustainable crops to be grown in Scotland year-round, has taken the top prize at the University of the Highlands and Islands Business Competition.

The award, which is jointly sponsored by Harper Macleod and Johnston Carmichael, was for founder Simon Hay's idea for a modular, vertical freight farming system which would use redundant land and create perfect growing conditions to provide organic and economical produce. The Fortrose man took the top prize of £1000 and a combined legal and accountancy package, along with a further £750 for most innovative business.

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The winner said he was inspired to set up his company when he was volunteering for a charity in Edinburgh delivering food packages to people in need during the pandemic.

He said: “It really brought home to me the types of food people were eating and, more importantly, foods they were not. Much of the food we pick up from the supermarket has been in transit for at least a week and has lost huge amounts of its nutrition, not to mention the impact on our carbon footprint. Food should be sustainable, reliable, affordable and local for everyone in Scotland.”

Mr Hay was among nine successful finalists sharing in the £8000 prize fund after impressing a panel of entrepreneurs and business development experts with their ideas at an online pitching session.

The event was held virtually for the first time this year, and you can find out the full list of winners here.

Harper Macleod has supported the University of the Highlands and Islands Business Competition for more than 13 years. Overall the competition has attracted more than 1500 entries since it launched and has awarded more than £78,000 in cash prizes.

Run by Create, part of the University’s Centre for Remote and Sustainable Communities based at Inverness College UHI, the competition is open to all students studying at the UHI partnership as well as non-students living in the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Perthshire. This year’s competition attracted 90 entries.