One of the core objectives of the iFactory programme is to provide local small businesses with access to an extensive portfolio of support and assistance from highly trained and qualified professionals at the cost of only a nominal fee to the company.
One small business that availed of the iFactory portfolio of support, and which is now nearing the completion of its iFactory journey, is Larne-based Acceptable Enterprises Ltd
AEL provides a wide variety of quality services to a large number of customers across many industries at highly competitive prices:
AEL is the sole mop manufacturer in Northern Ireland, producing cotton and mixed yarn mops for both the domestic and commercial cleaning industries. The company also provides sub-contract work for local Industry including, recycling, sample making and general component assembly.
Perhaps what is most remarkable of all is that all these services are provided through the gainful employment of people with learning disabilities. The company is very much driven by its social economy ethos of ‘Helping You, Helping Us, Helping Others'!
As Agnes Lamont, the AEL's General Manager, said: “Our Local Enterprise Agency, LEDCOM, put us in touch with an iFactory Innovation who helped us develop our Innovation Action plan.”
“The programme provided us with access to a very experienced mentor who has now provided drawings and prototypes and suggestions on how we might improve our product.
“We were also able to undertake a technical review and appraisal of our ICT equipment and have now a list of recommendations on upgrades to our hardware, software and indeed our website — all vital tools for our business.
“iFactory also provided us with an opportunity to begin a more focused and targeted look across our service/product range and make more effective usage of the key brands and customers we service.
Of course, one of the unique benefits of iFactory is access to an Innovation Agent for up to 18 months, who gets to know and understand the company and its needs.
“It's a distinct advantage to any small business to have access to a professional mentor in order to sound him/her out on advice and ideas for growing and developing the business,' said Dr Bernard Toal, CEO of NORIBIC.