An £80,000 grant from the North of Tyne Growth Fund (NTGF) has enabled document management specialist Datatron to successfully bid for a five-year NHS contract. The new warehouse investment boosts the company’s long-term growth potential and will bring more work to the North East, securing and creating over eight new jobs.
The North of Tyne Growth Fund is a £4.6m European Regional Development Fund that aims to support SMEs across Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle local authority areas to create employment and stimulate business growth. This project is part funded by the European Regional Development Programme 2014-2020.
Datatron has a 20-year history of digitising records for the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, one of the largest NHS trusts in the UK. Managing Director, David Popay, knew they had all they needed to be a real contender to win the trust’s new project to manage the digital transformation of its medical records over the next five years - except a large enough records management facility.
The project required a larger separate facility and additional scanning specialists for the secure digital processing of over 1m sets of medical records. The new warehouse expands Datatron’s storage facilities three-fold and doubles its scanning service capacity.
The timing of the launch of the North of Tyne Growth Fund in January 2020 could not have been better for David, who was recommended to the programme by a North Tyneside Council business support advisor.
“Our advisor at UMi has guided us all the way, reviewing the project proposal and checking its eligibility, rigorously assessing our application at each point until it was ready to submit to the panel”, David explained.
The award of the grant allowed the business to start setting the project up in July, securing the lease for the new building and equipping it with a bespoke racking system to securely store the records and specialist IT equipment and security systems.
David continued: “When we got the offer letter it was gratefully accepted. We were then able to implement our carefully planned project and place orders for specialist equipment and begin the recruitment of new staff.
“The fund supports businesses to grow but in particular, the assistance helps mitigate the risk for complex projects. Taking this project on without the funding would have been a bigger challenge due to our large investment of over £200,000. The funding, however, has provided a safety net of security that has allowed us to implement the project quickly”.
The investment puts Datatron in a strong position for its future growth, as David explained: “This is a golden opportunity for us. With this new facility and infrastructure, we can now compete and tender for jobs from across the UK that would have previously been beyond our capacity, bringing more opportunities up to the North East.
Brent Smithson, Business Support Advisor for the North of Tyne Growth Fund, said: “It has been a pleasure to support David and the Datatron team in their application. The new records management facility presents a great opportunity for the business to compete for bigger projects nationally and I’m sure with its history of investment and innovation, this will be the latest in a long line of exciting developments for the company.”
North of Tyne Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Deputy Mayor of North Tyneside Council, Cllr Bruce Pickard, said: “The Datatron project is exactly the kind of forward-thinking, digitally innovative investment we are seeking to make in the North of Tyne.
“It comes at a time of acute need, when the NHS is seeking new ways to meet the challenges presented by the impact of this dreadful virus.
“We are absolutely committed to ensuring the North of Tyne not only recovers from COVID-19 but comes back even stronger, as a great place to live, work, and do business.
“Investments of this kind through the North of Tyne Growth Fund will be key to how we achieve this.
“I’d urge anyone keen to see their business develop to contact us for help to take those vital next steps.”
John Healey, Corporate Finance Partner at UNW LLP, said: “It is encouraging to see the North of Tyne Growth Fund making a real difference to companies in the area. Datatron is an excellent example of how this fund can support investment and create new jobs.
As one of the first successful applicants to the program, David urges other SME business owners to take full advantage of the opportunity to take their business further.
“I know it can be daunting, but don’t be put off by the process”, he said. “If you believe in your project then be prepared to do the work and go for it. Regardless of whether you’re accepted, the process is extremely beneficial. It is essentially free consultancy, as the advisors help you with analysing your financials and looking at your business plan with a fresh pair of eyes.”
Datatron is joined in the first round of successful applicants by Norfran Ltd, a precision aluminium and zinc diecasting company, and Transmission Dynamics, an internet of things (IoT) engineering analysis provider.
The North of Tyne Growth Fund is a £4.6m programme of investment part-funded by ERDF that supports SME growth across Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle local authority areas. Delivered by UMi, the primary aim of the fund is to create employment and stimulate business growth. It is part of a £19.75m package of business support mobilised by North of Tyne Combined Authority. All successful grants applications are appraised by UNW LLP, an independent firm of chartered accountants and business advisers.