Good advice

So many businesses have an idea, project or problem on the shelf gathering dust; things you know would help your business move forward, but you haven't the time, knowledge or skills to do anything about.

So many businesses have an idea, project or problem on the shelf gathering dust; things you know would help your business move forward, but you haven't the time, knowledge or skills to do anything about.

Perhaps there is an easy answer. The North-East has some of the UK's brightest undergraduates, with high level skills, technical capability and a lot of drive.

These young people can bring new skills and enthusiasm to kick-start or manage development ideas, which can give your business fast and affordable access to knowledge.

There are services to support businesses that have these needs, providing both undergraduate and graduate support. Tedco is a local agent for the Shell STEP (Shell Technology Enterprise Programme) summer programme.

STEP helps small and medium businesses develop their potential using the skills of the UK's brightest undergraduates.

The programme runs for eight consecutive weeks during July and August, and Tedco will source the right undergraduate with the skills your business needs. This can cover a wide range including the following:

Research

New products, niche markets, competitor behaviour, consumer behaviour, business development.

Improve

Information management systems, internal communication systems, admin capabilities, operational procedures, IT systems.

Create

Marketing strategies, promotional materials, internet and intranet initiatives, e-commerce facilities, web sites, databases.

Innovate

Dynamic new ideas and perspectives to help drive your company forward.

How much will this cost?

The undergraduate is paid a Training Allowance of £180 per week. However, the company only has to pay £85 towards this. One NorthEast provides the rest.

Which businesses can take part?

Small to medium sized businesses with less than 250 employees and not owned by another company or part of a group of companies having 250 or more employees.

Boldon biotechnology company Immunodiagnostic Systems took part in the programme.

International product manager Jayne Furness said: "IDS has been involved in STEP over many years and the different products have helped us to make business decisions, to target specific markets or to re-organise our procedures."

* If you require support or advice call Tedco on (0191) 428-3300, email bussupport @tedco.org or visit www.tedco.org

Carole White is business support manager at Tedco

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