North East Business and Innovation Centre trials Smartphone app

A business support organisation which helped an innovative software business to get up and running, has become the first organisation to trial a new Smartphone app

A business support organisation which helped an innovative software business to get up and running, has become the first organisation to trial a new Smartphone app designed to ease the stress of visiting office facilities for people with disabilities.

The North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) in Sunderland has installed assist-Mi Office, a two-way alert system that will enable disabled people to request assistance from the BIC’s reception desk ahead of arriving at the centre.

The app, which is the brainchild of entrepreneurs Gary McFarlane and Neil Herron, is expected to revolutionise the way disabled people do business.

It allows users to request support such as reserving disabled parking spaces, requesting to be met upon arrival or simply to check access to the building in advance of arriving at premises such as the BIC.

The service provider can then anticipate a disabled visitor’s arrival on site, ensuring that appropriate support is available eliminating unnecessary stress for the visitor.

Gary McFarlane, director of assist-Mi Office, said: “As a disabled entrepreneur I am very aware of the stress that can be caused when visiting office premises and not knowing what support will be available once I reach that location.

“Using Smartphone technology, assist-Mi Office will help overcome this barrier to doing business, enabling people to request assistance where necessary and reassuring them that their needs will be catered for upon arrival.”

Gary, who relocated to Sunderland from London in 2010, had identified a gap in the market for the support system, drawing on his own experiences as a disabled businessman and through market research carried out with disabled groups in the community.

The app, developed over the past two years, is being trialled at BIC and will then be rolled out to other businesses and organisations across the UK and overseas.

A number of organisations are said to be keen to install the software.

The assist-Mi concept is also being applied to other areas including retail, car parks, railway stations, airports and petrol stations.

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