23 Jan 2023

East Midlands businesses offered fully-funded support for technology growth

Businesses across Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire are being urged to take advantage of the support available from the Digital Upscaler project before funding comes to an end.

The project, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by East Midlands Chamber, supports businesses looking to invest in new technologies to propel growth or to overcome barriers due to a lack of understanding of new technologies.

It offers businesses the knowledge, investment and capacity to scale-up by embracing new technologies, and includes:

  • Intensive one-to-one adviser support from a team of digital experts
  • Funded consultancy to support new technology integration
  • An extensive programme of in-person, two-day digital workshops
  • Peer networks and the East Midlands Manufacturing Network – a Chamber initiative launched last year as a peer-led network, regularly bringing together makers across the region.

Nearly 500 businesses have so far enrolled on and engaged with the programme, which runs until the end of June 2023.

Paul Humphreys, head of scale-up services at East Midlands Chamber, said: “Time and again, we’re told the Chamber’s ‘deep dive’ workshops offer hugely practical advice that can be implemented immediately when staff are back at their desks.

“Beyond our extensive programme of workshops – which are fully-subsidised for staff in businesses across Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire – we’re offering one-to-one support from our digital advisers to businesses considered to be high growth. Those showing the best growth potential will be invited to apply for a consultancy award.

“By getting to know a business, we can help its senior management team improve their knowledge when choosing a solution, developer or system provider, and make informed and considered decisions about technology investments. Our ultimate aim is to ensure their digital solutions meet the desired performance and functionality needed for future growth.”

Digital Upscaler case studies

Businesses that have already benefitted from Digital Upscaler support include:

Micro-Fresh, Leicester

Micro-Fresh managing director James Bowie

Micro-Fresh is an innovator in the field of developing antibacterial coatings to suppress bacterial development and reduce odour. The business has experienced significant growth across multiple sectors, including footwear, textile, hospitality, healthcare and sportswear, and now enjoys revenues of more than £6m worldwide.

Having witnessed a meteoric rise in demand for its products across the globe, the business needed to modernise and elevate its digital systems to better support international shipping and stock control management across its rapidly growing network of international offices.

Digital Upscaler provided in-depth tech advice and helped Micro-Fresh access funding, enabling it to procure and implement a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to modernise its approach.

Managing director James Bowie said: “For a long time we had been relying on outdated systems, including manually updated spreadsheets. It became critical for our growth plans to gain a more consolidated view of stock levels.

“The new ERP system is configured to alert the UK team when supply levels begin to drop in any of their offices internationally and automatically ‘feed’ the required stock without delay. It also allows us to instantaneously ‘track back’ throughout the supply chain, preventing production delays and ensuring stock is ready to ship when needed.

“This has significantly reduced the labour intensiveness of processing, driven greater efficiency and freed up more time for internal teams to focus in other areas.”

Home Curtains UK Ltd, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire

Home Curtains finance director Stacy Clifford

Home Curtains specialises in the supply of home furnishings, particularly curtains. It supplies large digital e-tailers, the mail order market and independent high street retailers.

By its own admission, the business was lagging behind when it came to modern tech terms. With support from the Digital Upscaler project, the business now has a new warehouse system and ERP, a new access and entry system, plus an upgraded website that includes real-time stock information.

Finance director Stacy Clifford said: “Our Chamber business adviser Prashant Gandabhai was an absolute godsend. He had a clear understanding of the benefits of financial audits and made an immediate impact. He helped us get all our ‘ducks in a row’ and was the driving force in ensuring we met a particularly challenging project.”

Learn more: Chamber video: Home Curtains.

Cruise Circle, Bolsover, Derbyshire

Cruise Circle owners Danielle Nemeth and Jason Daniels

When husband and wife team, Jason Daniels and Danielle Nemeth, acquired independent specialist travel agent Cruise Circle from its previous owners in 2009, they had a clear vision to evolve it into an online travel provider that was ahead of the curve in the cruise travel sector.

A Digital Upscaler grant and expert digital adviser support have enabled them to completely overhaul their legacy systems, resulting in the integration of data collection and data processing modules and customer relationship management.

Integration of automation functionality across platforms has reduced time spent manually inputting simple bookings, accelerating booking procedures and delivering a more efficient service to customers.

Jason said: “Our Chamber digital adviser demonstrated significant system development experience, which proved invaluable to us. He impressed on us the need to completely rethink and rebuild our digital position, and helped us understand the digital architecture we needed to develop was, in principle, not entirely different to that deployed by other business in other sectors.

“This reassured us that, with the right technical support, our digital functionality goals were within perfect reach.”

Upcoming Digital Upscaler workshops

  • Using technology to scale your business: Tuesday 24 January and Tuesday 31 January – Village Hotel, Nottingham
  • Social media academy: Wednesday 25 January and Thursday 26 January – Leicester Marriott Hotel; Tuesday 7 and Tuesday 14 February – Village Hotel, Nottingham; Tuesday 28 February and Wednesday 1 March – Holiday Inn Leicester
  • Successful search engine optimisation: Wednesday 1 February and Wednesday 8 February – Leicester Marriott Hotel
  • Inbound marketing: Thursday 2 February and Thursday 9 February – Leicester Marriott Hotel
  • Get to grips with GA4 (Google Analytics) and convert more visitors into sales and leads: Thursday 16 February and Thursday 23 February – Leicester Marriott Hotel

More information on the Digital Upscaler project, including a full list of events, is available on East Midlands Chamber’s website at www.emc-dnl.co.uk/services/digital-upscaler.