Month: April 2019

Business Woman Swaps Smart Suits For Smartphone

After a successful career as a Sales Director, travelling the world and enjoying a healthy package, a desire to try new things and push her personal boundaries led Michelle Cowan to review her priorities.

Putting her passport to one side, Michelle took the opportunity to spend time with friends, family and associates before deciding what to do next.

It was during these conversations she recognised that there were three simple things stopping smaller organisations and start-ups from using social media for business; time, the cost of hiring an agency and creativity.

Eighteen months later, with a business partner and thanks to lots of hard work, Michelle launched My SMART App, a downloadable app that based on a user’s preferences can create, schedule and post content to Twitter and Facebook business pages.

Available from Google and Apple App Stores, the product uses content that is based on days of the week, awareness days, weeks, months and key UK events making it ideal for businesses that target a consumer facing audience.

Furthermore, the device allows the user to customise the pre-prepared posts, to add personality and use the correct tone of voice for the business, while also accepting unique content too, supporting smaller organisations as they build their brand and presence online.

Michelle comments: “If someone had told me two years ago that I would be running my own organisation and that it would solve a problem and meet with the challenges that are faced by other small businesses I would have thought they were crackers!

“As it stands, that’s exactly what has happened. I’ve had a lot of help along the way, not least from business support services such as AD:VENTURE, and can see that taking the time to attend workshops, sessions and networking has all been worth it. Knowing that we have a product that is available for download is really exciting!”

The My SMART App is available for download with a 60-day free trial and then a monthly cost of just £8.49. For further details please visit www.mysmartapp.co.uk

TimberTight secures £22,000 grant funding for expansion

TimberTight Ltd, An innovative Yorkshire-based construction company from Cleckheaton, which is capitalising upon the demand for timber-framed housing, has secured £22,247 from AD:VENTURE, the ERDF funded programme supporting start-ups throughout the Leeds City Region.

Businessmen Paul Williamson, Gordon Lorimer and Jake Hinchliffe launched TimberTight Ltd to meet with the growing preference for timber framed buildings, a specialism that is embraced and regularly used by construction firms throughout the world.

Ensuring the UK competes with standards that have been set throughout Europe and the USA, the company uses timber, a more environmentally friendly alternative to bricks and mortar, to create frames that take less time to implement and allow for the process of building a property to run concurrently in a factory whilst work progresses on-site.

Expanding quickly, the Directors recognised the need to access funding support so that the company could invest and upgrade its machinery to allow for precision high-volume cutting of timber to meet with an increasing number of commissions. 

Gordon Lorimer from TimberTight, comments: “We worked with Paul Tansey from AD:VENTURE. Not only was he very pleasant but he was a seasoned businessman. In the first instance we expected some hints and tips but what we had access to was free, professional business consultancy.

“Working with the processes, plans and advice that was given we were able to secure more than £22,000 in match-funded grant which allowed us to invest in the machinery that we needed to give us a competitive advantage. We also employed a further seven employees to run the equipment, expanding the business and giving local people the opportunity to work and to learn new skills.”

The TimberTight Team

Paul Williamson from TimberTight, adds: “We are an even stronger business than before thanks to the help we have accessed from AD:VENTURE. The new contracts that we have won through our enhanced competitiveness is proof of that.”

Thanks to the associations and partnerships between business service providers, TimberTight has also accessed support from Kirklees Council and Works Better, an employment support programme that is part-funded by the European Social Fund.

Karl Battersby, Strategic Director for Economy and Infrastructure, Kirklees Council, comments: “Working with innovative and progressive businesses like TimberTight is really encouraging, not only have they identified a rapidly expanding specialism, but they have embraced it and created a business model that is sustainable as a result.

“Knowing that we have market leading talents in Kirklees and that these skills are being passed to a workforce that are able to develop their career within a local organisation, gives us a success story to share with others.”

With the increase in demand for homes and buildings throughout the country, TimberTight set its sight on working with residential and commercial property developers throughout West Yorkshire. It has quickly become established as a credible brand and is responsible for self-build, social housing, local government projects and commercial structures.

For further details about TimberTight and its innovative approach to construction please visit: www.timbertight.com and for information about the practical and funding support that can be accessed through AD:VENTURE please visit: www.ad-venture.org.uk.

Funding boost for Wakefield tech company helps turn a concept into reality

What started out as a first-year university project for students at Backstage Academy (Production Park) in Wakefield, has transformed into a commercial spin-out, Interactive Immersive Classroom Ltd. as a partnership with Enquire Learning Trust and Production Park.

Using £11,000 in match-funded grants from AD:VENTURE, the European Regional Development funded programme of practical and financial support for young businesses in the Leeds City Region, the start-up purchased projectors that would allow for the system to be perfectly optimised and integrated in initial feasibility testing.

Turning the concept of immersive spaces within learning environments into a reality, in its initial precommercial phase, the business created and installed three immersive classrooms in schools in Grimsby, Stockton-on-Tees and Manchester.

Using integrated advanced technologies from the Live Events industry, Interactive Immersive Classroom has installed projectors within each school to deliver a 360-degree socially immersive experience.

An evolution of virtual reality technology, these immersive classrooms improve the social engagement and comprehension among pupils and provide a suite of new tools and content sources to allow flexibility in teaching practice.

Working with pedagogical curriculum consultants and with the integration of streaming and casting tools means that a world of internet media and content can now be mapped into the room for a dynamic and engaging learning environment.

Project Manager for Interactive Immersive Classroom, Andy Delmaine, comments: “Children are growing up surrounded by technology, they know no different. Creating an environment where they are able to immerse themselves into a world that is built around them makes the learning experience all the more engaging.

L-R James Whitaker, Andy Delmaine and Charlie Cooper. Image by Northern Exposure

“We would like to thank AD:VENTURE for the support and encouragement they have given us. Using the funds to complete the viability tests meant that we could show the product as an installation and all the benefits it can deliver in support of our initial installations in partnership with ELT. The company is now exploring other sectors that could benefit from the technology including museums, retail, emergency services and other training providers.

Andy comments: “We are looking to extend our relationship with other schools that want to try new things and embrace innovative ways of teaching. We are now using these installations as case reference as we commercialise the system and to sell it to other institutions that could benefit from immersive content on their walls.”

Tom Stannard, Wakefield Council’s Corporate Director for Regeneration and Economic Growth, comments: “We are delighted that start-up businesses in Wakefield are developing market-leading digital technologies. This is a real success story and I’m encouraged to hear that the business is now working with the wider city region to transfer their knowledge and technology.

“Taking a concept that was developed from a university project and turning that into a viable business model that has secured commissions is real testament to the collaboration and commitment of all involved; Interactive Immersive Classroom, Backstage Academy, Production Park, Enquire Learning Trust and AD:VENTURE.”

For further details about the visual technologies and installations that can be delivered by Interactive Immersive Classroom please visit http://immersiveclassroom.one/ or for details about AD:VENTURE and the practical and funding support on offer please visit www.ad-venture.org.uk

Success for small businesses in Yorkshire in Leeds Beckett awards

A Leeds Beckett University student with a therapeutic horticulture social enterprise, an e-learning training business and an all-female multimedia production company are among the winning entries in the 2019 Business Advantage Awards.

Five early-stage businesses scooped the awards – run by Leeds Beckett University in partnership with solicitors Lupton Fawcett, WGN Accountants and Yorkshire Bank – with each of them receiving £5,000 worth of legal support and mentoring. £1,000 of accountancy advice and 36 months’ free business banking.

The awards were presented on 25th March at the Innovation Network event in Leeds. These quarterly events are held at each of the University Businesses Centres in Leeds, Halifax and Wakefield and bring together start-up and early stage businesses to explore key themes and make connections.

Candle Digital, set up by Andy Jack and Mark Langdale, were delighted to be rewarded with a prize just 2 years after starting up. Working with training providers and coaching professionals Candle Digital provides expertise to help create digital training products online. The business has recently taken office space in the Leeds Beckett University Business Centre in Halifax.

Andy Jack, Candle Digital said; “We’re thrilled to have been given this opportunity, the awards, expertise and support will make a real impact on our business and help us take the next step in our growth.” 

Other winners included Krishna Patel owner of Dilishque, a manufacturer of authentic curry paste pots, Sophie Mei Lan Hale from Evoke Media Group, a film and media production company, Lemonbalm a therapeutic horticulture social enterprise run by student Isabel Swift and Binary Forge Ltd, a new software consultancy business specialising in Internet of Things devices recently set up by Glenn Pugh and Matthew Roberts.

The Business Advantage Awards began in 2015 and are open to students and graduates of Leeds Beckett (within five years of graduation), clients of the University’s Business Centres in Leeds, Wakefield and Halifax and businesses receiving support from AD:VENTURE – a European, ERDF funded programme which helps early stage businesses in the Leeds City Region to grow.

Simon Baldwin, Head of Research & Enterprise at Leeds Beckett University said ‘We are delighted to work again with our partners Lupton Fawcett, WGN and Yorkshire Bank on our annual Business Advantage Awards which have now provided invaluable support to over 25 early stage businesses in the last 4 years. The number and standard of entries continues to grow each year and we look forward to working with this years cohort’