University partnership uncovers international business opportunities

12th January 2018

A company which provides software solutions to the food service and hospitality industry is exploring new business opportunities in America with the help of Teesside University.

The University is also helping Stockton-based Trade Interchange to grow its graduate talent, including developing staff through degree apprenticeships.

Trade Interchange’s ARCUS® supplier management platform enables its clients to address the challenges of managing a large supplier base.

It is specifically designed and developed to address supplier and contractual risk, supplier performance management and eSourcing.

Trade Interchange works with a number of major brands in the UK, including Domino’s, Brakes, Sodexo, PizzaExpress and Whitbread, and is keen to expand its customer base into North America.

Through the Innovate Tees Valley initiative, Trade Interchange worked with business innovation staff at the University to prepare a funding bid to Innovate UK. The company is seeking to research the American food service and hospitality market and look at how the ARCUS® platform might need to be adapted to comply with US legislation.

The four month project involved desk-based research and analysis of the US food industry, followed up by two visits to America.

The company is also working with the University-led Enterprise Europe Network to identify potential trading partners.

Co-Founder and Managing Director Mike Edmunds said: ‘Working with the University has been extremely positive.

‘As a result of the work we’ve done we’ve now got a much better understanding of how the US market works and what its drivers are.

‘We’re in a position to step up our work in America at the back end of this year and have developed a number of relationships with potential customers in America.

‘It is fantastic that we can rely upon the University for support for our ongoing research projects, but equally the University plays a key role in our recruitment process.’

Trade Interchange works closely with the University’s School of Computing, Media & the Arts and supports its annual final year graduate showcase, ExpoTees.

Several of the company’s staff are Teesside alumni, including Jessica Bates, who took up her role as a graduate developer in June.

The company has also enrolled Emily Baldwin on the Digital and Technology Solutions (Web Engineering) degree apprenticeship and she will work for the company at the same time as studying for her degree.

Marketing Executive, Lucy Burgon, added: ‘We have a really positive relationship with the University and the School of Computing, Media & the Arts.

‘They have listened to us and to what we need and really helped us to fulfil our goals.’

Innovate Tees Valley is a European-funded innovation supernetwork led by the University and delivered in partnership with NEPIC, the Materials Processing Institute (MPI) and DigitalCity.

Laura Woods, Director of The Forge, Teesside University’s Business Hub, said: ‘We’re delighted to be working in so many ways with Trade Interchange.

‘This is a great example of the business relationships we aim to foster, developing strong links and understanding, and providing joined-up support from across the University. As we help businesses like Trade Interchange to innovate and grow, we’re also helping our own students and graduates to build worthwhile careers in the region.’

The Innovate Tees Valley project has received up to £3.8million of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.

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