YTKO appointed for £1.5M Convergence project

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A £1.5 million project to boost ambitious local businesses by helping them work together has been launched in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Supported by almost £1,4 million of ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) Convergence investment, with the balance coming from the South West RDA (Regional Development Agency), it is estimated that the three-year project will support 380 businesses.

YTKO, a specialist economic and business development company, has been appointed to set-up and manage the new business collaboration project.

It is part of a package of ERDF Convergence investments totalling £25 million that are aimed at supporting ambitious business growth in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Business Collaboration Networks encourage businesses to meet and work together to plan and pursue market opportunities that they would be unable to do on their own.

The Cornwall Business Collaboration Network aims to stimulate and accelerate economic growth with joint working and professional support services. It will emulate the success of YTKO’s Norfolk Network, a successful business innovation community active and trusted in a county with many similarities to Cornwall.

A specialist management team will help small and medium sized companies across a range of sectors, informing and supporting them in effective collaborative working, especially to attract new customers and boost sales.

Working closely with Business Link, existing networks, and sector-specific organisations, YTKO’s Cornwall team is able to carry out new sales and marketing initiatives, and help new product and service development for Cornwall companies working in partnership.

The service also provides comprehensive collaboration software. All companies starting a joint project have free access to an easy-to-use but powerful online tool-kit, for project management, communications, document management and time-recording.

Peter White, YTKO’s founder, said: “We have years of experience forming, expanding and developing vibrant business networks, and supporting entrepreneurs and businesses to grow and expand in collaboration.

“We’re delighted to be able to access world-class expertise and knowledge in Cornwall, to bring together businesses for mutual success,” said YTKO programme director, Helen Trudgeon.

“Collaboration pays real dividends to companies working together, not just in new sales, but also develops skills, processes and manageable growth. Working hand-in-hand with ambitious Cornish firms, my team is ready now to research and develop new opportunities, nationally and internationally.”

Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Convergence Partnership Office for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “This ERDF Convergence investment for business – one of a number coming on stream throughout 2009 – encourages, through specialist advice and support, our ambitious businesses to work together to develop and exploit new and existing markets. In the present economic climate this type of support for business is particularly important as they seek to maintain healthy order books.”

Diana Mompoloki, Head of Convergence at the South West RDA, said: “This investment will help unlock business potential in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly by creating the conditions for businesses to work together, learn from each other, and pursue exciting new opportunities.”

Harry Hart is Operations Director at Fire Crest Fire Protection – Cornwall’s leading fire protection company. He was one of the panel that selected YTKO for the contract.

He said: “YTKO have a proven track record in rural parts of the UK, helping businesses of all types to gain good business. They have shown they are passionate about strengthening our economy through cooperation. Partnered with a deep understanding of the local business community, I look forward to seeing them assist businesses to work effectively together in Cornwall, and promote our combined skills and creativity.”

YTKO, which has set up a new regional office in Truro, is Customer First accredited, and the holder of the Prowess Flagship Awards across all its services.

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