Innovation voucher helps Abacus rack up new export success

Belfast company Abacus Professional Recruitment is targeting increased export business and efficiency savings after taking advantage of Invest Northern Ireland’s £900,000 Innovation Voucher initiative.

The £4,000 voucher enabled Abacus to access expertise from the University of Ulster to develop ways of using the latest multimedia marketing techniques to target new foreign markets.

The University experts also enabled the company to plan a new workflow process which will help generate significant efficiency savings for the business. As a result, staff have been able to focus even better on core operations and the business is attracting more clients from new overseas regions, including Australia, USA and the Middle East, whilst also boosting profit margins.

Olive Hill, Invest NI’s Director of Technology and Process Development, says: “Invest NI’s Innovation Vouchers enable local small companies to collaborate with academia to tackle specific operational projects. By accessing expertise that might not normally be available to them, companies can make significant advances with new product or process ideas.

“Invest NI is keen to support small businesses here, like Abacus, to achieve this. Striving to identify new commercial opportunities will help local companies remain resilient during the recession and be strongly positioned when the global economic trend turns upward again.”

Abacus Business Director Alan Braithwaite is pleased with the outcome of the work with University of Ulster: “We pride ourselves on finding the right people to fill the skills gaps in our client companies and matching individual clients to the career opportunities they want. It is, though, becoming a much more competitive marketplace and we are having to be increasingly creative to meet, and exceed, client expectations.

“The Innovation Voucher from Invest NI enabled us to access expertise not available to us in-house and which has proved to be extremely beneficial. By highlighting how we can use emerging techniques and marketing channels, the team from the University of Ulster has helped us increase our market presence and attract high value clients from all over the world.”

Abacus is one of 168 local small companies that have so far successfully applied for an Innovation Voucher, worth up to £4,000 (€5,000) of the cost of accessing the expertise of a range of specialist knowledge providers, located in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.