Cleardata celebrates stellar growth backed by North of Tyne Growth Fund
Following a whirlwind year and supported by £155,794 capital growth grants from the North of Tyne Growth Fund, UK document management company Cleardata has more than doubled its capacity and workforce, contributing to the company winning two new contracts worth more than £13m.
With his sights set on a £10.7m NHS contract, Managing Director David Bryce realised he needed to scale Cleardata quickly to compete with bigger companies for the work. The expansion into two adjacent units, creation of 100 new jobs and upgrade of equipment and infrastructure has been a huge investment for the Blyth-based company, costing £1.4m.
Seeking support to offset the risk, a contact at Advance Northumberland introduced David to the North of Tyne Growth Fund, a £4.6m investment programme part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and supported by the North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA).
“Without the help it would have put the project more at risk,” David reflects. “There is a lot of capital risk involved in scaling your business up this quickly and ensuring you can invest in the right technology, as well as managing the finances at the same time is key. The North of Tyne Growth Fund has enabled us to take that risk with a bit more confidence.
“Winning the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust contract was an important gamechanger for the business. Local support to help win a local contract for a local business is always good news.”
As well as securing the contract, the investment has created many other benefits. The team is enjoying an improved working environment and using the latest technologies, including the world’s fastest scanners and robot automation software. Cleardata has also set up a new training academy to nurture talent and upskill its rapidly expanding workforce.
“It’s taken us to the next level scale-wise,” David continues. “It enabled us to win a big £3m digital mailroom contract. Because when people are asking, ‘can you cope with this amount of work, upheaval and change’, and you can demonstrate you’ve got a project like this up and running and employed that many people successfully so quickly, it helps you win more contracts.”
Cleardata currently provides high-volume document scanning, digital mailroom, secure archive storage, cloud document management and automated document processing services throughout the UK. But now with greater capacity and infrastructure in place, David is excited about the potential for future developments driven by technology, to help customers with their digital transformation.
The company can help businesses transform manual processes, such as sorting and validating incoming documents, both physical and digital, using clever software and even utilising a digital workforce of software robots. This can free up valuable staff time, significantly reduce overheads and increase productivity, which is key in the current marketplace where many business costs are increasing.
“The world’s your oyster in terms of what you can do with digital transformation. We’re now looking at more buildings because we’re growing so fast,” David adds.
For companies in a similar position, David recommends a chat with the North of Tyne Growth Fund team, which draws on the expertise of UMi project advisers and UNW LLP, a Newcastle-based chartered accountancy and business advisory firm, to guide applicants through the grant process. The larger the project and investment, the more it makes sense to apply, he says.
“We really appreciate the support we’ve had from the North of Tyne Growth Fund,” David continues. “I think it’s important to help businesses take risk and create jobs – and in this instance, we’ve created more than we said we were going to, by far.
“Speak to UMi first and make sure that you get all the information that you need and realise what’s going to be involved.
“We found them very helpful. You’ve got people there to hold your hand through it all, and they were really good.”
Metro Mayor Jamie Driscoll said: “Too often, small businesses are pushed out of winning public sector work. It’s great to see that our funding has helped Cleardata to grow and prosper and ultimately win two major contracts. It’s another success story from the North of Tyne Growth Fund, which we set up to help small and medium-sized enterprises, across our region, to grow and create jobs.”
Mike Baker, Senior Project Manager of the North of Tyne Growth Fund, added: “The way Cleardata has tackled these two projects to rapidly scale-up its business with new buildings and recruiting 100 people in eight months is impressive. The investment has clearly paid off, and we encourage other businesses with similar ambitions to get in touch to see how we can support your capital investment projects.”
Neville Bearpark, Head of Grant Services at UNW LLP, said: “It is excellent to see the expansion and job creation at Cleardata as a result of this significant investment. As the new contracts show, it was clearly the right decision to support this ambitious company in its bid to keep up with demand.”