Success on site as four make it to awards final

Charity giving, music technology, stairlifts and community training websites all triumphed at the North-East section of the prestigious E-commerce awards yesterday.

Charity giving, music technology, stairlifts and community training websites all triumphed at the North-East section of the prestigious E-commerce awards yesterday.

The four diverse winners selected from the 200 original entrants walked away with their trophies from the awards, sponsored by Sage, held at Newcastle United's St James's Park ground.

Now those businesses will progress to the national finals and go up against the best e-commerce businesses from across the UK.

The E-commerce awards were set up by the Government-backed UK Online for Business and InterForum, and are designed to celebrate UK small businesses with less than 250 employees, which have successfully used e-commerce and the internet.

Each regional category winner receives £2,000 then at a national level can win a further £8,000. The four remaining national category winners will then compete against each other for the title of National E-Commerce Awards Champion 2003, winning £30,000.

The winner of the e-trading award was Perfiliate Technologies of Newcastle. The company runs "shop" websites for more than 2,000 charities and other good causes.

These shops link to retailers' online sales pages and every time a purchase is made by a customer who has used a shop, the retailer pays a commission to Perfiliate and 80pc of it goes to the good cause.

Some of the biggest names in UK business are now signed up with Perfiliate to be featured on its `buy-at' shops, including Sky Television, Marks & Spencer, Comet and MFI.

Perfiliate's Chris Tradget said: "We reckon there are 300,000 causes in the UK which could benefit from having a buy.at web shop and we only have 2,500 so far."

Commission on the buy.at sites can be a substantial source of income for charities, with, for instance, Sky Television offering a £7 donation for every customer signed up through the webshops.

In the e-business start up category, Infection Music from Houghton-le-Spring won through. The company started out as a record label for synthesised music, but has also moved into artwork for CD covers, and making actual musical instruments.

The website's managing director David Hughes said: "The internet is our only real route to market. We don't have shops or conventional distributors. It's great because customers come forward with ideas and proposals which can enhance the whole project."

The voluntary and community award was won by One Voice Network from County Durham. Project manager Sue Northcott, from the network's Voluntary Sector Academy, explained how the ONV website worked as a network for voluntary and community organisations in County Durham. The site also provides helpful information, and on-line applications for training and jobs.

The fourth category, e-business, was won by Bison Bede from Consett. The company's IT manager Mike Domingue said: "Our site is leading the way ahead of the other stairlift manufacturers in the industry, providing the best source of information for our dealer network."

Nigel Hudson, Sage's UK business development director said: "E-commerce is clearly the future.

"We want people to think about e-commerce helping to improve customer service, process orders faster, or manage costs better.

"It's important to make customers understand what it can do for them."

E-Commerce Awards 2003

Winner: Perfiliate Technologies, Newcastle.

Highly commended: The Greetings Card Company, Newcastle

E-business start-up:

Winner: Infection Music, Houghton-le-Spring

Highly commended: Eldon Recruitment, Newcastle.

Voluntary & community

Winner: One Voice Network, County Durham.

Highly commended: Project North East, Newcastle

E-business Winner: Bison Bede, Consett. Highly commended: TOFFS, Gateshead.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer