Having successfully designed, manufactured and distributed their own bespoke touch-screen jukebox, Jaybox were already pioneers in the demand-driven supply of music.
Participating in the Cumbria Innovations Platform Innovation Development Programme (IDP) helped them to see their growth plans in a new light – and to find new ways to take their offer to market.
Signing up for the six-month programme delivered by Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) was a logical step, says Jamie Barnett, Sales Director at Jaybox.
“Being quite a small company, the problem we had was getting bogged down instead of getting ideas into reality: it’s often difficult to generate the resource to push for innovation,” he says. “So we were looking to speed up that process and actually follow ideas through.”
The Penrith-based company had previously engaged with Lancaster University’s Science & Technology department on two student projects: one working on the collaborative filtering that enables related customer recommendations, much like Netflix or Amazon; the other reporting on a broad range of technology that could be incorporated into their core product.
As they began to look at developing new systems and a new product, a business programme designed to equip Cumbrian small and medium-sized enterprises with better tools for innovation had obvious appeal.
“It was different to what I envisaged, but good different,” Jamie says. “The scope was wider. It included a lot about generating ideas, which we were pretty good on anyway. But then it went through how we could challenge those ideas and develop them into fuller, implementable ideas, which we definitely weren’t so good at. We’d been guilty of either shooting things down too soon or waiting until something was absolutely perfect.
“The programme showed us that your first product release doesn’t have to be perfectly polished, if it’s properly innovative. You can change it as it goes, and you can get the basis of a deal together and then polish it later.”
The programme showed us that your first product release doesn’t have to be perfectly polished, if it’s properly innovative.
Jamie says a number of new contracts, for supplying music to third parties – a significant new direction for the company – have come about by using this approach.
He highlights the peer learning within his cohort as a particular strength of the IDP, and adds: “There aren’t many people that do what we do, but I found that a lot of the other businesses, while being totally different, still had a lot of the exact same problems. Learning about their slant on business – as well as learning common techniques for pushing through innovation – was the tip of the iceberg, and it’s really spurred me on to learn more.”
Angela Moore, the programme manager for the Cumbria IDP at LUMS, sees Jaybox as an example of the positive outcomes that can be achieved from the programme.
She says: “Our six-month programme enables Cumbrian SMEs to shape and develop their businesses to embrace innovation. It gives them the opportunity to link up with other businesses and explore new ideas for product and service development.”
As a direct result of his involvement on this programme, Jamie has started an apprenticeship degree course with the University of Cumbria, LUMS’s partners in the wider Cumbria Innovations Platform.
… it was very motivating. It gave us the tools and techniques to look at what we were doing and to change tack, quite considerably.
He is also exploring closer links with other companies, both fellow entrepreneurs from the IDP and those increasingly important third parties. The change of mindset came in no small part from the programme’s emphasis on Open Innovation, and he says: “Historically, we were all about non-disclosure agreements and keeping intellectual property firmly to ourselves. Whereas if you share your ideas and collaborate with other companies, often you can develop things that you never would have on your own. The programme opened our minds to that.
“Overall, it was very motivating. It gave us the tools and techniques to look at what we were doing and to change tack, quite considerably. It helped us see how we needed a new product – or products – and we needed to push for that. It also changed our view on what the market wanted, and the kind of company we’d be, moving forward.”
The IDP is supporting 60 businesses over three years. It is part of the Cumbria Innovations Platform, which is part-funded through the European Regional Development Fund.
For more information about the programme email Business Liaison Officer Pete Cornwall or call 01524 510728.
The Cumbria Innovations Platform has received £2,311,725 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government 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, click here.