A North East business is helping to safeguard a whole generation of future IVF babies.
Britannia Monitoring Systems Ltd, based on Teesside, develops and installs robust early-warning wireless systems for high-security institutions from fertility clinics, blood banks and food microbiology plants to ambassadors’ residencies across Europe.
The business, founded by Mark Hastings-Long and Scott Dixon, is supported by Redcar Enterprise Team, which provides free business support to more than 200 companies across Redcar and Cleveland, holding monthly free networking events and enabling firms to achieve business growth.
Mr Hastings-Long said: “Who would have thought that a small team of ordinary people from Teesside would have access to some of the most high-security laboratories in the UK, but that’s exactly what we do.
“More than 50% of our business is with fertility clinics – our systems are helping keeping future IVF babies safe while they are being created.
“It started four years ago when we were introduced, quite by chance, to Statebourne Cryogenics - a company that produces temperature-controlled equipment for universities, hospitals and medical research facilities.
“They were looking for a company capable of developing bespoke highly-sensitive monitoring systems to meet the needs of the medical and research market – within six weeks we had a product that was ready for use and we’re still working with Statebourne today.
“We were the first to develop such a system for temperature-critical equipment, which alarms if the temperature begins to alter, and we continue to review and refine our systems to ensure they remain cutting-edge.
“Our systems are used by laboratories handling priceless tissue samples, including embryos, where it is vital the conditions are controlled.
“Basically we stop a problem before it becomes a problem in situations where even the most microscopic of changes can be catastrophic.”
As well as fertility clinics the company works with Oxford and Cambridge research departments and London Zoo, working to safeguard the future of endangered species.
More than 80% of the company’s business has come from referrals, and it was only after meeting with business coaches at the Redcar Enterprise Team that Mark and his colleagues considered actively marketing the company and began exploring the potential export opportunities.
Since then turnover has increased by 25% from £300,000 to £400,000.
Mr Hastings-Long continued: “The Enterprise Team put us in touch with UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and we are now developing a market in Switzerland, where we’ve had the most incredible help and support to make contacts including up to £3,500 back in travel expenses and assistance from embassy staff who have found customers for us.
“We now have an agent there, our workload is increasing and business is growing.It’s a great position to be in.”
The company is about to recruit an apprentice and it is likely more jobs will be created in the coming months.
The Enterprise Team is made up of skilled business coaches, and is focused on helping companies in Redcar and Cleveland to achieve their goals, including moving premises, increasing their turnover and improving profitability
The scheme offers Redcar and Cleveland businesses at least 12 hours of free tailored support from which more than 150 jobs have been created and more than 200 companies have been supported during the last 12 months.
The business coaches have also held scores of free pre-start workshops, enabling hundreds of residents to realise their dream of running their own business or exploring the possibility of self-employment.