First Expert Panel. Superfast Business Cornwall.

The first milestone in the Superfast Business Cornwall service was reached when the inaugural Expert Panel was held in June at the Pool Innovation Centre.

Representatives from a selection of major international firms like Microsoft heard presentations from four leading Cornish companies. 

Superfast Business Cornwall Expert Panel

The first four businesses to present to the Expert Panel for support from the service were Mining Searches UK, IT West, Sea Communications and Datasharp UK.

Each business worked closely with a Digital Business Enabler to develop their ICT project plan and hone their presentation ready to meet the Expert Panel. The Digital Business Enablers will continue to work with the businesses to support their projects and ensure they maximise the return on investment.

At the presentation, each business was scrutinised and challenged on its business model, financial planning and its approach to achieving routes to market. The experts made recommendations for each business to better exploit the opportunity as well as a number of introductions and potential collaboration opportunities. The businesses have received all of this valuable feedback and some conditions for funding in a document which will be incorporated into their project plan with the support of their Digital Business Enabler.

The four businesses all said the support from the Superfast Business Cornwall service had the potential to enable them to transform their business by accessing new markets, developing new services or changing business models, in some cases enabling the firms to expand and hire up to 15 new staff members.

Truro based Datasharp UK, an award winning national independent provider of business telephone solutions and networked photocopiers, intend to expand the services it offers to their clients with the support of the Superfast Business Cornwall programme.

Equally Mining Searches UK, from Redruth, will be able to create a new web service and intends to offer remote mobile access to in-depth reports to customers across the U.K. with potential to expand internationally.

Director Paul Raglan said: “Peninsula Enterprise has unlocked the door for us with this programme, this fund means something we have been discussing for many months can now become a reality.  “We are absolutely delighted at the opportunity.”

Internet business IT West from Hayle estimates the expansion it will be able to achieve with support from Superfast Business Cornwall will see up to 15 new members of staff recruited. 

And the fund will create job opportunities at Sea Communications, a service design agency based in Penryn. The investment will enable the firm to move a new business stream forward.

The expert panel at Pool included representatives from Microsoft, Experience Lab, Clustre, Lloyds TSB, Francis Clark, University of Exeter and Peninsula Enterprise as well as Superfast Cornwall who gave excellent support to the rest of the Panel with updates on their Programme. 

The Expert Panel met with representatives from the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) the day before the panel, and had an informal briefing on the investment in superfast broadband infrastructure and other economic development initiatives in Cornwall.

Tim Hall, partner manager for Microsoft, said: “I think Peninsula Enterprise has done a great job in assembling some very, very exciting businesses for the first Expert Panel session. 

“We’re keen to support the service, and these businesses, to see how they can grow their usage of technology to improve outcomes for customers.

“Technology is a great enabler for people to have better outcomes, whether it’s in their personal home lives or their business lives – it’s all about technology enabling those connections and engagements.

“Microsoft engagement with SMEs from a business perspective is part of that.”

The support being offered to the small and medium businesses involved in the Superfast Business Cornwall programme by large corporate companies is attracting interest as it is a potential model for other economic development support.

Sebeail Fowell, Project and Partnership Manager for Superfast Business Cornwall at Peninsula Enterprise, said: “The first Expert Panel was an excellent start to the programme, and a hugely successful and rewarding day for everyone involved.

“In addition to the four businesses that took part in the first panel session, we are also working with a number of other really interesting companies who will face the panel soon. These businesses are putting together very strong cases for investment, which are all truly innovative and transformational.” 

Funding totalling £227,000 has now been approved for two of the first four businesses. The other two are progressing with recommendations prior to funding being agreed for a further £100,000.

If you would like to find out more about the Superfast Business Cornwall service please visit call 0845 6003936 or e-mail [email protected] 

Delivered by Peninsula Enterprise in association with the University of Exeter, and closely aligned to the activities of Superfast Cornwall.

Thursday 15 August 2013