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WORLD LEADING BUSINESS SUPPORT

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Business Navigator wins new contracts to build on West of England success

The developer of a web portal that lets West of England businesses find local support and events has won two new contracts to redevelop the platform for other communities.

Business Navigator – found at www.businessnavigator.org.uk – is a free online service for businesses that has been developed in collaboration with the support of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership. The better-connected business community it is helping to build in the Bristol and Bath area forms an important part of the LEP’s push to create 95,000 new local jobs by 2030.

Now the success of the platform has helped the site’s developer, the SETsquared-affiliated Bristol company CareTechnica, to secure a contract with a second LEP, this time in the South East with the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership and West Sussex County Council.

Martin Coulthard, co-founder of CareTechnica, said winning a contract with a second LEP contract illustrates how Business Navigator has developed into a powerful and effective business portal that supports local business connectivity.

“We are already applying what we have learnt in the West of England to this new project,” he said. “Our approach with Coast to Capital LEP and West Sussex Council will be to produce, maintain and continually improve the business support portal so that it fully meets the needs of business people, support organisations and commissioning bodies.”

Coulthard said the purpose of every Business Navigator site is to help businesses to survive, evolve and succeed, thereby boosting the development of the local economy and employment.

CareTechnica has also won a contract from the West of England LEP to create a skill-focused version of the portal called Skills Navigator. The site will help businesses by offering the same functionality as Business Navigator as well as delivering a searchable database of individual skills contacts across five further education colleges in the West of England area – City of Bath College, City of Bristol College, Norton Radstock College, South Glos and Stroud College and Weston College.

Development of both new sites is now well advanced and they are expected to go live during the summer.

Business Navigator was the first LEP-backed service of its type to go live in the UK when it launched in June 2011. It provides business people right across the West of England with a comprehensive calendar of local events and networking opportunities as well as details of business support organisations that can help them.

The service typically aggregates more than 100 events each month and lists 60-plus local support organisations.

Colin Skellett, chairman of the West of England LEP, said: “It’s testament to the LEP and to CareTechnica that our portal technology and knowhow is now being acquired by others. A lot of thought and effort has gone into creating a site that will be used by the business community and really help to bring businesses closer together. That other parts of the country can now benefit from what we have learned is exactly right.”

The project also showed how LEPs can be entrepreneurial by setting up innovative collaborations with commercial partners, added Skellett.

“I would urge local business people to take advantage of this great resource. The more it is used, the more resources can go into developing it in the years ahead, to everyone’s benefit.”

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