Finance Fred Heritage · 3 December 2015
Smart R&D grant sees Hiring Hub create innovative products to help SMEs
Securing funding for research and development (R&D) is often crucial to the success of an innovative young business looking to make waves in it’s sector, as we found out from one young company. For online recruitment marketplace Hiring Hub, time and focus was required to successfully apply for a 100, 000 grant through Innovate UK’s Smart scheme. Business Advice spoke with the company’s founder and CEO Simon Swan to find out about the application process and how exactly the funding will be used to develop the business. Working to drive innovations in science and technology that will help grow the UK economy, Innovate UK has joined with partner organisations and businesses to provide 3bn of funding for more than 5, 000 companies and projects since 2007. It’s Smart scheme is available for any UK SME carrying out R&D projects and research. (1) What was it like applying for Innovate UK’s Smart scheme? How did you find the application process? The application process was fairly difficult and very thorough. We put a lot of work into the project tender, and needed time and focus to make sure it was successful. There are only ten questions on the application form, but the majority of the work went into the business plan required alongside it, in which you have to outline future strategies and the direction you want to take the business as a result of the grant. The level of difficulty is a good thing though. Too easy and it would result in Innovate UK funding the wrong sorts of projects. They’ve got the process right in terms of how they make sure they target the innovative companies that can really make a difference. (2) How exactly are you using the grant to improve the service Hiring Hub provides to recruiters and clients? We are working to develop and grow different types of recruitment software available to both recruiters and clients online. So many firms are still struggling with inefficient in-house recruitment techniques. There is no real solution to managing the recruitment process and we want to be the platform effectively delivering the recruitment software SMEs can’t afford and don’t have access to. Crucially, we are using the grant to develop online products that’ll better manage interactions between recruiters, candidates and clients. We are improving the functionality of our interactive website overall, as well as more specific tools that enable clients to rank candidates and develop statistics. (3) What specific products are you developing with the funding? When do you expect these products will be launched? Were building an intelligent, cloud recruitment system to help smart SMEs manage the end-to-end recruitment process on both desktop and mobile. It will allow each to identify suppliers, manage candidates, and interpret large volumes of data in an intuitive way. it’s a proof of concept? grant, and we adopt an iterative approach to development so our beta users can expect to see the first updates early in 2016. (4) What specific benefits can recruiters/ clients expect as a result of the funding? Large companies use enterprise recruitment software to manage suppliers, candidates, and process. However, this software is too expensive and complex to serve SMEs. As a result, small companies tend to use ad hoc and inefficient methods like Excel spreadsheets or desktop files. We aim to provide a platform that integrates with many office tools and helps each recruit intelligently.
ABOUT THE EXPERTFred Heritage
Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.