University of Strathclyde
Engineering and Technology
One of the biggest problems IT companies have when it comes to sourcing new business is the cost and the time it takes to search for businesses looking for their services. Many IT companies spend a great deal of money by advertising in magazines and media that may not bring them the return they need or target the correct market. Company Connecting has been set up to provide a business to business service connecting companies. It helps IT companies be found by prospective partners and suppliers so that they can grow their business and it saves other companies time and effort by helping them find the IT skills to meet their business needs and aspirations.
Company Connecting were looking to create a new online platform for matching businesses based on requirements. In order to develop a prototype for this platform, expertise in interactive search and interface design was essential.
Janice Grant Shaw, the owner of Company Connecting, had been working with Business Gateway in Aberdeen on the overall concept. Her Business Gateway advisor referred the company on to Interface. After sending out a search to various universities in Scotland, Interface matched the company with Dr Martin Halvey, Department of Computer and Information Sciences at the University of Strathclyde, who has extensive knowledge of research in both recommender systems and interactive information retrieval. The collaboration enabled a Proof of Concept which was funded by a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher. Company Connecting used the initial prototype as a framework for company data along with the skills/attributes. The intention was to get companies to try out the attribute and search mechanism to prove the overall concept and to develop the search mechanism to enable companies to find other companies who could help/complement their business. Company Connecting then used the feedback to develop the full product and take it to market.
In speaking about the process, Janice said:
“Without Interface it would have taken us considerably longer to launch Company Connecting. Business Gateway introduced us to Interface to see if we could get help from any of the academic institutions in Scotland. We submitted our proposal to Interface and received offers from four universities.
It was apparent that the University of Strathclyde understood the premise for Company Connecting and what we were trying to do, and, after receiving the grant from the Scottish Funding Council, we rapidly moved onto the development stage. Dr Martin Halvey of Strathclyde and I worked together and defined the full specification. Martin helped me to understand the options available for faceted searches and the various methods that could be used. Searches of data are becoming increasingly complicated. The issue for many people is the sheer volume of data available and the quality of the data returned.
From the outset, Martin understood the importance of the very focused search required and the need to up the quality of the returned items – over anything else currently available. I continued to work on the data side of things, whilst Martin developed the options for searches and educated me on the technical aspects. Company Connecting had no in house resources available to help with this experimentation stage.
Interface helped bring Company Connecting to life”.
In August 2015, Company Connecting Limited officially launched their new website. The mission of the site is to help IT tech companies talk with one another, as well as to provide a showcase for companies to show their skills, services, and products.
It is anticipated that the company and University will continue to work together.
The project resulted in getting the prototype to a ‘Minimum Viable Product’ stage, which could have the impact of:
• Creating new search and matching mechanisms
• Enabling the prototype product to be tested across Scottish companies
• Generating sales
• Creating employment.
The benefits of the project to the University and the Scottish economy are:
• Provides visibility of Scottish technical companies and their skills globally
• Provides a mechanism for Scottish companies to find partners to join up skills and win bigger contracts
• Access for students to all tech companies and what they do, in Scotland initially and then internationally
• Creates jobs in a new business
• Potential to go global, which is good publicity for Scotland and its educational institutions.
Please note that Interface administers the Innovation Voucher Scheme on behalf of the Scottish Funding Council. All funding applications are reviewed on a case by case basis by the Scottish Funding Council, guidelines can be found here.