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Welcome to the May 2023 edition of Business Beat.

This is your regular update from South Ayrshire Council’s Economy and Regeneration team on support and current grants available for your business.

New Energy Bills Discount Scheme

The March budget saw the new “Energy Bills Discount Scheme” (EBDS) introduced to replace the “Energy Bill Relief Scheme” (EBRS) that had run until 31st March. The Energy Bills Discount Scheme will run for 12 months, from April 2023 to the end of March 2024.

The EBDS contains a baseline discount that will provide some support with energy bills for eligible non-domestic customers. This discount will be applied automatically and non-domestic users should expect to see this applied in May bills. There are also additional discounts for non-domestic users in certain sectors.
For more information on the EBRS, go to the UK Government website.

Reducing your energy bills
If you want to find out how to improve energy efficiency for your business and discover ways to reduce wasted energy, check out the Energy Management Plan blog by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). It explains how to monitor your energy usage, see what’s being wasted where, and what to do to keep costs down.

FREE product design, engineering and manufacturing support

Do you have a project that could benefit from free support from a senior undergraduate or postgraduate student? The University of Strathclyde is looking for opportunities for their Design, Manufacturing and Engineering Management students who could help explore new ideas, concepts and systems over the course of an academic year. 
The students have expertise in product design engineering, product design innovation, sports design engineering, manufacturing and engineering management.  Projects would run from September 2023 to May 2024. 
To find out more, please contact Mari Findlay, Business Engagement Executive with Interface, email or call 07780 336463.
Closing date is 31 July 2023.

Got AMBITION for your business?

Our AMBITION programme supports job creation in South Ayrshire. It’s for anyone with the ambition to employ or become self-employed and is for every type of business.

Our Business Advisors can help you whatever stage you’re at on your business journey, whether you’ve got an idea to start something new, are in the early stages of setting up or are already well established.
For more information or to find out what grant support is available see our AMBITION programme website. You can also follow us on Facebook or Linkedin

Sponsorship opportunities –
the International Ayr Show 2023

The International Ayr Show - Festival of Flight is coming to Ayr shorefront on 8 – 10 September 2023 and looks set to be a thrilling event featuring a fantastic range of entertainment for all the family, iconic aircraft and daring aerial displays.

There are lots of ways to support the International Ayr Show. It’s a great opportunity to reach a wide audience, give back to your community and support engagement in STEM.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how you can support this exciting event, please email 

For trading and advertising opportunities please contact:

Deposit Return Scheme delayed

Plans to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme for single-use drinks containers in Scotland have been pushed back from August 2023 to 1 March 2024.

Under the new scheme, when anyone buys a drink they pay a 20p deposit for the bottle or can it comes in, which they get back when they return their empty bottle or can to a collection point to be recycled. The scheme has been designed to help tackle climate change by reducing the amount of material going to landfill, improving recycling rates and reducing litter.

Drink producers, importers, wholesalers and retailers all have obligations under The Deposit and Return Scheme for Scotland Regulations 2020.

Zero Waste Scotland has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the Scheme, including why Scotland is introducing it and how it actually works for businesses.

Read the FAQs here:

Regional Energy Masterplan

South Ayrshire Council, along with North and East Ayrshire Councils, have partnered with Scottish Enterprise and the University of the West of Scotland to create a Regional Energy Masterplan for Ayrshire. The work that is now underway will produce:
  • An assessment of how energy is used across the region
  • Identification of energy sources
  • Development of a strategic energy vision for all of Ayrshire
  • Option evaluations
  • Planning, scenario modelling, and reporting of proposed technical solutions
  • Options to identify opportunities for investment, business growth, skills and supply chain development at the regional level
This work will support options in energy infrastructure investments for Ayrshire and will catalyse the use of new clean/low carbon technologies which can lead to economic growth, community wealth building and help our region be more resilient to climate change.

We’ll continue to provide updates as the project progresses.
All the events below are free to attend, but registration is required


Working For A Healthy Economy
Thursday 25th May, 3.00 – 4.00pm
Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce, Glasgow Prestwick Airport
Run by Salus - an NHS based provider of Occupational Health & Safety and Return to Work Services – this supportive session is for any employers or staff who are experiencing difficulties with mental health and emotional wellbeing, physical health and pain or overwhelming circumstances. Find out how to get quick access to qualified and experienced holistic health and wellbeing support, including access to appropriate treatments such as physiotherapy, counselling and supporting individuals to remain in/return to work. Funded through the Ayrshire Growth Deal, this service is available with no charge to individuals or business.

For more information and to book your space go to:
Working For A Healthy Economy

Connect @ The Cutty-Sark Centre
Friday 26th May, 10.00am – 11.30am
The Cutty-Sark Centre, 8 High St, Ayr KA7 1PA
Join the Ayrshire Chamber team at their monthly Connect networking event, this time at the new community building beside the River Ayr, the Cutty-Sark Centre. Open to non-members also.
For more information and to book your space go to:
Connect @ The Cutty Sark Centre | Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce

All these events below are run by Business Gateway and take place at County Buildings, Wellington Square, Ayr, KA7 1DR
Start Up your Business
Thursday 18th May, 2pm - 4pm

This workshop is part of series aimed at people who are planning to start or have just started a business and need to know the basics of what to do.
For more information and to book your space go to:
Start Up Your Business | Business Gateway

Prospecting for Sales
Wednesday 7th June, 9.30am – 12.30pm

All businesses need to plan proactive sales activity through prospecting for more sales and polishing up on techniques. This session looks at where and how to find more customers and covers the basic sales process from the start of discussions through to asking politely for the order.
For more information and to book your space go to:
Prospecting for Sales | Business Gateway


This event is run by Business Gateway and takes place at Business Gateway North, Quarry Rd, Irvine, KA12 0TH.

Business Planning & Cash Flow
Thursday 1st June, 10am - 12.30pm

Whether you’re starting or growing your business, you need a business plan for securing a loan, applying for a grant or considering the direction you want to go in. This workshop takes you through all the steps required to writing your plan.
For more information and to book your space go to:
Business Planning & Cash Flow | Business Gateway


Grow your business – selling online
Tuesday 16th May, 12.30pm – 2.30pm
Halo Enterprise and Innovation Hub, Hill Street, Kilmarnock KA31 3HY

This Scottish Enterprise event is for anyone looking to start or grow their online business, providing insights on the key platforms such as Shopify, eBay, Amazon, Etsy, Wayfair, and Faire.
For more information and to book your space go to:
Grow your Business

Ayrshire Regional Economic Strategy: Business Engagement Event
Wednesday 24th May, 10.00am – 12.30pm
Ayrshire College - Kilmarnock Campus, Hill St, Kilmarnock, KA1 3HY
This Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce event gives you the opportunity to help shape the new ‘Ayrshire Regional Economic Strategy’. Chaired by Alastair Dobson, CEO of Arran Dairies and Chair of the Regional Strategy Working Group, it’s your chance to share your valuable opinions and experiences, as well as strengthen the Regional Strategy Working Group’s understanding of what Ayrshire businesses need to aid economic prosperity over the next 10 years.
For more information and to book your space go to:
Ayrshire Regional Economic Strategy Event For Enterprise | Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce

All these events below are run by Business Gateway and take place at Ingram Enterprise Centre, 30 John Finnie St, Kilmarnock, KA1 1DD

Networking Skills
Thursday 25th May, 9.30am - 12 noon
Become equipped with the skills you need to build effective networks.
For more information and to book your space go to:
Networking Skills | Business Gateway

Networking Event
Thursday 25th May, 12.30 – 2.00pm
An opportunity for new and existing businesses to meet with Business Gateway Advisors and each other.
For more information and to book your space go to:
Business Gateway Networking | Business Gateway 

HR for Non HR People
Tuesday 30th May, 10am - 12noon
Learn about the main areas of HR that all business should be aware of.
For more information and to book your space go to:
HR for Non HR People | Business Gateway

Selling Made Easy
Friday 9th June, 10am – 12.30pm

Learn how to sell, even if you are not a salesperson and how to close deals with confidence.
For more information and to book your space go to:
Selling Made Easy | Business Gateway


Meet the Buyer 2023
Wednesday 17th May, 10am - 4pm
Edinburgh Conference Centre, 150 Morrison Street, EH3 8EE

Meet the Buyer 2023 is a free event hosted by the Supplier Development Programme. It gives you the chance to meet with procurement teams, buyers and supply chains to learn about upcoming projects and tender opportunities locally, nationally within Scotland and across the UK. It’s aimed at micro, small and medium sized businesses from across Scotland. 
For more information and to book your space go to: Meet the Buyer 2023
To see the full range of support available from South Ayrshire Council to start or grow your business, visit our Business Support webpage.

You can also go to the Find Business Support website which provides an overview of all funding and services offered by public sector organisations across Scotland.

Blackthorn Salt was co-founded in Ayr by Whirly and Gregorie Marshall. Although the brand officially launched during lockdown, this followed 12 years of committed research and development to perfect the Blackthorn ‘Scottish sea salt flakes’, which are made entirely from west coast seawater.

South Ayrshire Council’s AMBITION programme has been supporting Whirly and Gregorie as they seek to grow their business.

Whirly explains:
“We were allocated a Business Advisor through Business Gateway who has been brilliant, making us aware of grants, supporting us with funding applications and generally being there for us whenever we need help or advice.

“One of the biggest impacts on our business was being told about and awarded a Digital Boost grant. Prior to this, we didn’t have digital marketing expertise and had to resort to expensive outsourcing. Now we’ve got the technical know-how - as well as lots of ideas - for confidently managing our marketing inhouse.

“Our Advisor also connected us to Destination South Ayrshire and we received a tourism grant supporting a ‘Blackthorn Big Day Out’ event in April. We invited other local artisan food and drink businesses to join us, the event was incredibly popular, with over 1,400 people enjoying some tasting, learning, music and fun. As well as providing something for the community, the event allowed us to spread the word on sustainability and artisan food production in a positive way and put this area of Ayrshire on the map."

“We’re so grateful to have an ongoing relationship with Business Gateway and are excited about exploring other opportunities available to contribute to future projects for growth, sales and exporting.”

Blackthorn salt is supplied to retailers and wholesalers, as well as the hospitality and manufacturing sectors. To find out more on Blackthorn, visit their website Blackthorn Salt | Scottish Sea Salt Flakes or follow them on Facebook or Linkedin.

Thanks for reading. If you have questions or feedback, please just email and one of our team will get back to you as soon as possible. See you next issue.
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