Project services business given assistance by Innovate Tees Valley
A company which has created a network of freelance professionals, contractors and small businesses is being helped to develop new products for its innovative online platform thanks to the support of Innovate Tees Valley.
Smartsociates, which is based in Middlesbrough, was founded in 2015 and provides a forum for freelance workers, contractors and small business within the engineering and technology sectors to find work, develop their skills through one-to-one learning and collaborate on innovative projects. It also allows businesses to advertise jobs, post project enquiries and execute work using inbuilt quotation, sales order, invoicing and secured payment systems adapted for marketplaces. Its integrated communication system covering text messaging, voice and video, file-sharing and whiteboard enables businesses to interact within the platform seamlessly.
As the company looked to develop its online offering and provide more digital features and services it turned to Innovate Tees Valley to help meet the new challenges in its business. Innovate Tees Valley, funded by the European Regional Development Fund and led by Teesside University, helps small businesses to try new things and improve or develop products, services and processes and is delivered with the help of partners DigitalCity, the North East Process Industry Cluster (Nepic) and the Materials Processing Institute (MPI).
Through Innovate Tees Valley’s Knowledge Exchange Internship programme, computing graduate Sankeeth Sriranganathan was placed with the company to provide specialist support as the company developed its online platform and also benefitted from the academic expertise of Mansha Nawaz, a senior lecturer in the University’s School of Computing, Media and the Arts. The company has received support for other partners within the project, which has included advice and mentoring from Nepic who are giving assistance with growing the business and reaching more clientele and from DigitalCity, who invited the company to attend the Fellowship Accelerator programme which gives young businesses funding and mentoring as they develop an idea or products ready for the market.
Pascal Pemha, the company’s Venture Lead, said: “The number of freelance workers is growing rapidly and is predicted to represent about 35% of the talent pool in most organisations by 2020. We aim to provide a quality service that brings freelancers, contractors and small businesses together, creating a workforce ecosystem where they can support each other interactively. The support we have had from Innovate Tees Valley has been fantastic. It has brought new skills into our business which weren’t there previously and has allowed us to try new things and attract more freelance workers to use our services.”
Suhail Aslam, Innovate Tees Valley project manager, said: “Because we are backed by a network of regional business organisations we are able to offer SMEs in the Tees Valley unrivalled support and advice.Smartsociates have a great business model and we are delighted to have been able to help them meet the challenges of growing the company in such a variety of ways.”