Future50 smashes new jobs target after £1.2m cash boost to region’s businesses

Johan Herrlin, chief executive of ITO World.
Photo: Rob Howarth, Anglia Picture Agency

Johan Herrlin, chief executive of ITO World. Photo: Rob Howarth, Anglia Picture Agency - Credit: Anglia Picture Agency

A programme which set out to showcase and support the brightest up-and-coming businesses across Suffolk and Norfolk has smashed its target of creating 200 new jobs in the region.

Members of the Ipswich and marketing company StrategiQ, based at Brightwell Barns, near Ipswich.

Members of the Ipswich and marketing company StrategiQ, based at Brightwell Barns, near Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

The Future50 initiative, managed by Nwes and Archant with partners, has handed out nearly £1.2m in grant funding to hit the target set by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Such has been its success that, two months ahead of schedule, the scheme has already created the equivalent of 267 full-time positions.

Andrew Wilson, head of enterprise services at Nwes, said: “The grants and business advice which Future50 provide have an impact to help these businesses grow faster, to become more stable and continue to have an impact on the local economy.”

Future50 is providing grants totalling £1.26m to its member businesses, with cash which was allocated by the Regional Growth Fund.

The maximum grant of £50,000 was awarded to nine businesses including Lifeline 24, which provides personal alarms for the elderly and used its grant to create 29 new jobs, and Ipswich-based transport software company Ito World, which created 10 new jobs.

Mr Wilson said: “This is not a grant to do what you normally do, it is to bring forward investment plans or have a bigger impact.”

Richard Voisey of Nwes.
Picture: Denise Bradley

Richard Voisey of Nwes. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

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Future50 business advisor Richard Voisey, from Nwes, said: “I am really impressed with the number of growing, innovative businesses that are out there. It is really refreshing.

“The businesses are at different stages of their evolution, but they all have issues finding cash to enable them to invest.”

He said grant funding was also helping companies to address gaps in their skills base.

“Youthful growing businesses are based around entrepreneurs who have generally a specific skill set that they are bringing to their business. More often than not there will be areas of weakness.

“At the start they tend to be generalists, but as you grow your team you start to employ specialists.”

He believed the financial aid offered by Future50 allowed businesses to start investing earlier – meaning quicker increases in staff and revenue.

Davina Tanner, CEO Britannia Enterprises, at Café Britannia. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Davina Tanner, CEO Britannia Enterprises, at Café Britannia. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

To find out more about the Future50 programme and its members, go to www.future50.org. Companies helped by Future50 grants include:

•ITO World: This Ipswich-based company uses the application of data to tackle transportation problems in major Its approach involves both real-time data to help network operators and travellers on the move and data visualisation to assist understanding of how networks function and, therefore, to improve planning.

Chief executive Johan Herrlin said that, over the last six months, the company had been working to increase the geographic coverage of its transit data which, besides the UK, also included North America, Europe, South America and parts of Asia.

The Future50 funding had supported the recruitment of 10 more people, with the roles including data analysts and developers, bringing the total workforce at ITO World to 34.

This left the company well placed at attract more new clients going forward, he added.

•StrategiQ Marketing: Based at Brightwell, near Ipswich, StrategiQ is on track to nearly double in size within a year, thanks to the help of Future50 grant funding.

Gnaw Chocolate owner Matt Legon.

Gnaw Chocolate owner Matt Legon. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

StrategiQ is based at Brightwell Barns on the edge of Ipswich, with its then team of 11 having relocated from offices at the Masterlord Office Village last summer.

Since then, the company’s workforce has grown to 19, including seven roles directly supported by Future50 funding, and two more new recruits are due to join in the near future.

Director Andy Smith said a major focus for the business following its move had been to build awareness of the StrategiQ brand and the Future50 support had contributed to this by enabling it to recruit staff with more experience than would otherwise have been possible.

Future50 funding had also enabled the company to purchase equipment to bring video production and photography in-house, he added.

•Britannia Enterprises: The company which runs Norwich Prison’s Britannia Café, is continuing to expand its support for prisoners thanks to investment from Future50.

A £48,543 grant from the programme was used to increase the café’s workforce and to support a new project – to buy houses ripe for renovation and enlist prisoners from HMP Norwich to complete the building work, offering another “real-life experience”.

James Leeds, CEO of Pupil Asset.

James Leeds, CEO of Pupil Asset. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Britannia Enterprises opened its first shop at the end of last year, selling up-cycled furniture and creating two new jobs for prisoners. With the Future50 funding the company has created 16 new jobs and increased its workforce to 63.

Chief executive Davina Tanner said: “Future50 directly helps us with our cash flow and helps us to get involved with new projects sooner rather than having to wait.”

She added the company had “exciting projects” planned outside its home city.

•Gnaw Chocolate: International confectioners Gnaw Chocolate saw spectacular growth of 54% last year and used its Future50 grant of £8,588 on new machinery to expand production.

Three new jobs were also created, pushing the company’s total staff over 20.

Chief executive Matt Legon said the Norwich-based company was aiming for 40% growth every year for the next three years and hopes to have a workforce of 30 by the end of 2017.

“We are trying to take Gnaw to a bigger market place,” he said. “We needed to invest in more machinery to do that.”

The latest country added to the confectioner’s portfolio of 21 countries is China.

With a strong demand in Europe, Mr Legon was confident the company could weather any changes to trading caused by Brexit.

“I believe we are dynamic enough to turn it around and find new markets,” he said.

The company has started 2017 with a new product launch – a single origin brand called Brooke and Amble.

•Pupil Asset: The Norwich company, which supplies data management systems to schools around the UK, has created seven new jobs and invested in new premises with its grant of £27,484 .

Since January last year it has grown the number of schools in operates in by nearly 15% from 793 to 910, and has recently taken on a contract to supply some schools in North Yorkshire.

Finance director Lee Taylor said “ideally” the company wants to boost the number of schools it operates in into the thousands.

“There are so many schools out there who are bogged down with the teaching of the pupils and it is important that we can help them out,”he said.

Chief executive James Leeds said the company is looking to expand its domestic and international offering over the next 18 months.

He said: “We have become the fastest-growing school management system in the country in the last year: that is a real boost for us and for Norfolk business.”