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Dave declares war on unemployment

A talented war gamer has started his own business with the help of the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC).

David Ayre, 31, turned his hobby into a business in May designing and manufacturing buildings for table top war games. David then sells the flat packed buildings to other keen war gamers.

David explains: “It all began when I made my own paint stand using a laser cutter. After realising how easy it was to do, I decided to have a go at creating a few prototype buildings to try out on friends and family, which went down a storm. It was then I visited the BIC.”

David worked with BIC business adviser Margaret Cook who helped him to develop his business plan and supported him through the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA, a national government initiative.

David continues: “Margaret gave me all the help I could ever ask for to get Dave’s War Games up and running. The meetings we had were very relaxed and informal. Having a business adviser who is professional but down to earth and can explain things in ways that I could understand was vital.

“I knew how I wanted to run the business but had never written a business plan or looked at a financial forecast. Margaret explained costs that I had not factored in which I would have come across later had she not pointed these out.

“I love the flexibility self-employment allows you and the sense of achievement you get when you have a happy customer. I recommend anyone with a business idea to at least go and talk it through with a business adviser, and that way at least you’ll know if it can make a viable business.

“I believe I am the only company of this kind in the North East. I plan to increase each product line and continue to make contact with stores that are willing to sell my product.”

Margaret Cook, business adviser at the BIC commented: “I am delighted with the progress David has made and to see his creativity come to life. He is a great example of someone realising that their hobby has potential and using that to their own advantage.”

The NEA programme aims to help those in receipt of benefits to start up a new business. For more information contact the business support team on 0191 516 6149.

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BIC is just the job for high-growth recruitment business

Fast-growing HR GO Recruitment is the latest business to move into the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC).

The long-established firm with offices across the UK believes the centre’s great location and well-appointed offices will support rapid growth.

The North East business has moved from older premises in Newcastle.

Cindy Hare, HR GO commercial director, said it needed larger offices because it was stepping up its permanent recruitment business.

Permanent recruitment, running alongside HR GO expertise and achievements in temporary employment, was poised to “grow massively,” she said. The Sunderland operation had already taken on new staff and would be adding more over the next few months.

“We viewed several office locations but chose BIC because it was in the right place and everybody has been so friendly and helpful. The move went really smoothly. Moving to Sunderland means our staff have nicer offices and more space to grow.

“The offices are three times bigger than what we had before and it’s a very positive move. It felt right for us.”
She added that most of her four-strong team, managed by Helen Walton, lived in Sunderland and the BIC’s convenient location made travelling a lot easier. Free parking was also a big advantage. “They know Sunderland, live round the corner and can target the area with gusto.”

She is confident that the North East, already a vibrant region, offers huge potential for further economic growth.
HR GO was founded in Kent in 1957 and celebrates its 60th anniversary next year. From humble beginnings, the business has grown into a £90 million operation, with several specialist businesses under the HR GO plc umbrella.
Its North East operation in the BIC is one of more than 30 outlets nationally. It employs around 300 staff.

HR GO Recruitment serves clients and candidates, finding people with the right skills for permanent and temporary positions.

Company chairman Jack Parkinson has pioneered joint ventures, as a successful way of growing the business while leaving entrepreneurial managers with a stake in the operation.

David Howell, director of operations at the BIC adds:

“As always it is a privilege to welcome another well established, successful company to our multi-purpose business centre. It’s fantastic to see HR Go and other businesses appreciate the opportunities available in Sunderland and the North East.

“Here at the BIC we have a unique mix of companies which make up our business community and I am delighted that HR Go are now part of this.”

For more information on HR GO visit www.hrgo.co.uk

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Innovation programme reboot for North East businesses

A programme designed for businesses to unlock their innovation potential has been relaunched, building on the success of the first North East SME Innovation Programme, which ran until August 2015.

The North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) has received £820,439 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

The Fund will assist businesses in the North East to become more innovative, allowing them to increase their competitiveness and exploit more opportunities, bringing benefits to the region.

Over the next three-years, the programme will support over 60 SMEs, providing the funding required to outsource help from innovation experts, enabling them to produce new products, services or processes to the business and/or the market.

Innovation manager, Elizabeth Shaw said: “I am delighted to announce that following the highly successful SME Innovation Programme delivered to NE businesses and the appetite in R&D expenditure for the benefit of increasing innovative activity, we now have the opportunity to continue to help businesses unlock their
innovation potential.

“Each SME will receive access to third party expertise in the innovation process and, as a result, will gain an understanding of the knowledge and skills required to undertake further projects within the business.

“In order to prosper, businesses must innovate and whilst most would agree with the sentiment, it can be difficult to know where to begin. This project will enable us to work with individual businesses to diagnose potential development opportunities and make vital connections.”

For more information on the programme call the team on 0191 516 6035 or email [email protected]

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North East BIC welcomes third laboratory business this year

A new North East business which uses innovative technologies to quantify the source of bacteria in bathing waters is the latest tenant to move into the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC).

The company, Prokarya, moved into laboratory space at the BIC just this month and managing director, Gregg Iceton, believes his company has a revolutionary approach to microbial source tracking as well as identifying bacteria, Gregg explains: “We offer two services; the first is tracking the source of bacteria in bathing waters, reservoirs or any other water sample. The second is identifying what kind of bacteria are within a sample and linking that to in the performance of bioreactors such as sewage treatment works.”

The company became established in May after Gregg completed the S.T.R.E.A.M programme, which enables talented researchers to develop their skills and careers, while obtaining an Engineering Doctorate (EngD), Gregg continues: “As far as I am aware there is no one in the UK offering microbial source tracking at this resolution. The food industry do offer a related service identifying meat species but it’s more to do with food safety and integrity of the supply chain. There are some companies offering DNA sequencing, but no one is offering a full analysis service.

“This source tracking benefits everybody. As there will be less exposure to bacteria, public health will be improved. You could also argue that local economies could benefit because if a beach gets the coveted Blue Flag, tourism could increase. The general public will benefit as there will be no need to spend money on additional treatment or storm water tanks if the pollution isn’t coming from there, which is what I can prove.”

After viewing the space available at the BIC’s Gregg was certain this 14 acre site was the place for him: “The BIC looked like a friendly place that provides help and support to businesses and that was a definite plus for me. It has a community spirit here and that was appealing, plus the lab space was everything I needed.

“My main focus currently is to bring awareness that there is technology out there as well as establishing myself in the market place.”

Prokarya joins two other recent laboratories who have taken space at the BIC; Biosignatures took residency in September as well as a cancer diagnostic company, Arquer Diagnostics, who also have a presence in Cambridge.

Senior space adviser, Donna Surtees, added: “Gregg’s business is the third laboratory we have welcomed to the BIC this year, his comments are very complimentary because a business community is exactly what we aim to create. I wish his business all the best for the future and I look forward to seeing him grow at the BIC.”