A chance meeting over coffee at one of Cornwall’s award-winning Innovation Centres has led to two companies based at the facility collaborating on a new project.
The Health and Wellbeing Innovation Centre (HWIC) in Truro is one of three acclaimed business acceleration centres in the county, run by University of Plymouth on behalf of Cornwall Council, which support companies to grow their businesses more quickly.
Organic skincare company Spiezia Organics moved into HWIC in January 2013, and has seen a record increase in profits of close to £34,000 and created three new jobs in the last year as a result of being based at the centre.
Spiezia’s managing director met up with a business which had recently moved into HWIC, Insite Digital, and discovered it created eCommerce websites designed to boost online sales, which is exactly what the company needed.
Amanda Barlow, managing director of Spiezia Organics, said:
“Business is going brilliantly but we knew we wanted to do some work on our website to boost online sales, and make the process of buying online faster for customers. Then Insite Digital moved into HWIC and I got chatting to the sales director Dan Hinchliffe over a coffee in the centre kitchens -- and discovered they were the experts on creating commercial platforms for selling online.
“It was the perfect solution as they are just one floor up if we have any questions, and it’s been fantastic to be able to work with a company right here at the Innovation Centre. It has made the whole process infinitely easier, and enabled us to undertake this project more quickly, which is exactly what you need when you’re trying to grow a business. This collaboration wouldn’t have happened without our both being based at HWIC, and it’s benefited the both of us. We absolutely love being at the centre as there is so much support available, but the connections you can make with other companies can prove just as essential.”
Insite Digital moved into HWIC in October 2013. The business has been trading since 2007 after it was set up by Dan Hinchliffe and Mike Reed when the pair decided to use their eCommerce merchant expertise to create an agency with a focus of turning web browsers into buyers.
The company specialises in creating Magento eCommerce websites to boost sales and keep customers, and has worked for companies including Green People, Cabbage and Roses and Tanners Wines. Insite moved into HWIC as it was working with increasing numbers of clients in the health and wellbeing sectors, and wanted to further develop these connections as their work lends itself to that market.
Dan Hinchliffe, co-founder and sales director, said:
“It was a great coincidence meeting up with Amanda at HWIC; Spiezia Organics is a very well-known and well respected company nationally, and we’ve been delighted to work with the team on helping to expand and improve its online offering. This collaboration would potentially not have happened had we not moved into HWIC, and it’s certainly one of the advantages that being based at the centre has offered us.
“We’re very happy with the benefits of moving to HWIC so far; the data connectivity and superfast internet speeds have really helped us as we have an office in Kiev, Ukraine and voice and video-conferencing now works much more efficiently. We’re also finding we have more time to concentrate on growing our business as a result of the HWIC team taking care of all the support infrastructure and managing the office facility for us, which is a great bonus.”
Insite Digital plans to expand now it is based at the Innovation Centre, and is about to advertise for three new positions – a sales and marketing manager, a project co-ordinator and a PHP MySQL developer.
Since the Health and Wellbeing Centre opened in Truro in 2013, the purpose-built facility has supported the creation of more than 33 jobs and helped the 18 fast-growing companies based there to enjoy record annual growth of 46 per cent in one year.
Karen Murray, HWIC manager, said:
“We’re delighted that Spiezia Organics and Insite Digital met up as a result of being clients of the centre, and that the companies have been able to work together to their mutual benefit. These kinds of collaborations are becoming increasingly common within all three Innovation Centres, and we regularly host networking events and social occasions to encourage our businesses to meet up and discover potential connections which could be advantageous for them.”
HWIC, along with its sister centres – Pool Innovation Centre and Tremough Innovation Centre in Penryn – are operated by University of Plymouth on behalf of Cornwall Council with the support of GAIN, the Growth, Acceleration and Investment Network which aims to boost business growth and job creation in the South West.
Cornwall Innovation is supported by the Cornwall Development Company (CDC), an arm’s length company of Cornwall Council, with £29 million of investment provided by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).