SME case studies

Taylor Garfit Solutions

Who: Based in the North West of the UK, Taylor Garfit Solutions (Outdoor Product Design) provide outdoor product design support to other companies, helping them to succeed in the market place.

What: The company sought access to unfamiliar markets, after already their current contacts were spent. They looked to understand how to navigate those markets and supply chains and apply new methods of communication and marketing. However, they needed help to access those alternative market sectors, other issues arose in changes in the requirements for standards beyond the immediate COVID-19 provision, Life Cycle Assessment to illustrate the comparative eco-credentials, further access to funding and investment and changes in procurement practice by the major customer segment which remains a highly criticised issue for the sector.

Outcome: Through Innovate UK EDGE, Taylor Garfit Solutions obtained £75k of funding, accessed testing facilities through NPL, life cycle assessment through Lancaster University, engaged in user testing with UCLAN, provided new access points to the NHS supply chain through AHSN and tackled new certification and standards testing issues with BSi.

CPD Match

Who: CPD Match is an Education consultancy in Sedgefield, near County Durham. CPD Match is best described by its founder and designer Richard Hickson as ‘the Trivago of healthcare education’, CPD Match is a website and app for healthcare professionals to find adverts for onsite and virtual courses, conferences, webinars and study days whilst providing all organisations with a marketing platform to promote virtual education worldwide.

What: After doing all the necessary research Richard decided to bring together the adverts for this sort of education in to one place and then institute a way of geographic matching to local education therefore reducing travel and transport.

So, the website was all ready to go in February 2020, and then Covid-19 happened which made all the work Richard had put into the website unnecessary because the country went into lockdown so people couldn’t even attend the courses local to them. So determined to move forward and get this platform out to people, CPD Match spent 14 months recoding the platform and making sure worldwide education providers could register, so that courses could be completed online while people were at home. This also meant that continents and time zones were no longer a barrier to education.

During the process of developing this business Richard had entered some clinical innovation competitions and pitched his idea to many organisations and was eventually put in touch with Innovate UK EDGE.

Outcome: Richard stated that the support from ‘Innovate UK EDGE was incremental in guiding the direction of the business’, this was especially vital to Richard as he comes from a clinical role and entering the world of business, thus the experience and knowledge that IUK Edge brought was paramount. IUK Edge were able to challenge Richard and able to think of and see opportunities that Richard couldn’t, as well as offering different ways to approach taking the business from start up to the next level.

Due to the advice and knowledge Innovate UK Edge were able to bring CPD Match has been able to go from strength to strength to facilitate a place to find the healthcare course you want quickly and efficiently.

Ionix

Who:

An innovative company in Huddersfield manufacturing ultrasonic sensor technology for corrosion monitoring in oil and gas and other industries has had vital support from Innovate UK EDGE as it develops an advanced prototype with global market potential.

What:

Over a year ago, Glen Wainwright, one of our innovation and growth specialist in the Yorkshire and Humberside region, began helping the firm to clarify its business model, branding and strategic road-mapping to maximise the commercial potential of its innovations.

Suddenly as the pandemic struck the priority was then to react to the increased demand for real-time power infrastructure inspections while maintaining commercial production of the core sensor product line.

Outcome:

Tim Stevenson, development director, said: “We took the opportunity to focus the support on core points of the business. Meanwhile, a continuity grant of £93,000 from Innovate UK kept us on schedule with a separate Innovate UK-funded aerospace project.”

Glen and colleagues in Innovate UK EDGE acted as a fast-reacting sounding board on Zoom and email, also casting a critical eye over the continuity grant application.

That role was even more important as Ionix prioritised prototype development of its exciting new product. In a Covid world it promises to be even more appealing as customers demand real-time, remote monitoring capability rather than sending engineers jetting around the world to carry out inspections on increasingly socially distanced sites.

Harry Hall Int.

Who:

Bradford-based company, Harry Hall has been selling equestrian wear and horse-riding gear since 1891 and have seen strong growth in e-commerce sales after help from Innovate UK EDGE to connect more directly with owners and riders.

What:

Harry Hall International has expanded beyond equipment and clothing into other products and services, including insurance.

It has developed its on-line capability to become a one-stop shop for owners and riders’ needs and to market innovations developed in-house. These innovations include a horse blanket that is fitted with an infra-red heating system for the animal’s wellbeing and faster recovery.

Outcome:

Increase in turnover and headcount 

The engagement with Innovate UK EDGE contributed to a 59% (£180,000) increase in turnover in 2020, with further growth of more than 60% expected in 2021. The company is hoping to achieve a three-fold rise in membership of its ‘One Club’ over the next two years.

With three new roles created as a result, Harry Hall now employs 30 people at its premises in Wibsey, Bradford, including the design team. Manufacturing is carried out overseas.

Business review

Jane McGeeney, an Innovate UK EDGE innovation and growth specialist, was called in late in 2019 to help managing director Liz Hopper and her team in evaluating the business model and value proposition for horse owners and riders. The business review looked at internal processes too.

As services expanded into a digital retail and membership offer, the onus was on the company to be even more innovative and responsive to market-driven clothing trends and associated technology.

In her advisory role, Jane helped the company to explore closer relationships with owners and riders through riding clubs and equestrian member organisations. Jane had support from colleagues Gail Leathley, looking at the international market, and Andy Taylor.

Jane said: “The idea was to accelerate the growth in membership by connecting with the grass roots. The effort made in investing in those relationships has really paid off, with membership growing from 16,000 to 25,000.”

Liz said: “Innovate UK EDGE has helped to ‘push’ the executives to think outside the box and become more future-focused rather than being immersed in the today.

“We have made a good start but there’s always work to do ensuring we scope and land projects on time.”

She added: “I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Jane and the team. The strategy and innovation templates are great tools and easy to grasp but certainly provoke good discussion.”