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Growth Hub helps Invisu to support industry innovation and technological processes

A Bolton SME is aiming to triple its client base within 12 months after building a new digital product to assist innovation in the manufacturing, engineering, chemical and logistics sectors.

Warran Bolton pauses for a moment, considering the question. As the Managing Director of a firm that’s poised for great things, what advice does he have for other Greater Manchester SMEs with their eyes set on growth?

“You have to accept that you don't know what you don't know,” he says, “and that there are people out there who can help you, so take advantage of the support that’s available. The problem is that it can be hard to find the right help and know who to ask.

“We’re lucky that we found the Digital Innovation team at the Growth Hub, who give us practical advice on the ground and are able to introduce us to further sources of funding, finance and expertise in our specialist area.”

When the new product was in development, Warran was able to call on the support of Judith Ross, Digital Innovation Specialist at the Growth Hub, who advised on:

  • Name and branding
  • Trademarking and intellectual property protection
  • Use of artificial intelligence and machine learning

The product is now in use in a variety of industries and applications, including airport conveyer systems, Amazon fulfilment centres and a variety of manufacturing facilities.

“I think we’ve got a bright future with it,” says Warran, “and we’re very grateful for the continuing support of the Growth Hub. Judith is like a dog with a bone. She pushes you. She says the tough things that you need to hear.

“When you’re running an SME, you need a sounding board. I like to have a good rant and moan to get things off my chest before I think ‘right, let’s solve the problem’. Having a trusted advisor there for this is great.”

Following the product launch, Judith guided Invisu through a complex pitching process with a major international chemical manufacturing company, and then referred Warren to Innovate UK EDGE for further support.

Identification and development of new markets

With the help of Senior Innovation and Growth Specialist Michael Hadfield, the company was accepted onto the prestigious Advanced Manufacturing Global Business Innovation Programme in Canada, which has accelerated its plans for market expansion in North America.

“We’ve recently returned from the programme’s first visit to Toronto, where we exhibited at the Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show 2023” says Warran. “We’ve attended MaRS [which supports science and tech companies] workshops on doing business in Canada, have had conversations with different economic development offices within Canada, and made new connections with potential clients, investors and partners.

“The support we’ve received, and the contacts we’re making in North America, will really help us get a foothold in the Canadian market. And off the back of the trip, we’ve had a meeting with the Louisiana Economic Development Office, who’d heard about us and wanted to know what we could do for them.”

With additional opportunities also opening up in the UK – “We’ve been accepted onto the Made Smarter programme and, after Michael suggested Invisu could be a good fit for the nuclear industry, have met with Fit For Nuclear to explore possibilities” – the future is definitely looking bright.

“I hope that in 12 months’ time we've tripled our client base,” says Warran. “It'll be great if we do that, but the sky is the limit. Thank you to the GM Business Growth Hub and Innovate UK EDGE for your incredible ongoing support!”

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