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Heroes of Cornish Broadband Revolution Announced by actnow

Fistral Blu on the beach at Newquay was the setting on Tuesday 21st June for Cornwall's first ever ICT Awards. actnow, the pioneering Objective One project which has spearheaded the growth of broadband amongst businesses in Cornwall, announced the winners of the 2005 actnow ICT awards at a lunchtime reception attended by over 60 business leaders.

The prizes were presented by Nigel Ashcroft, actnow project director and Carol Wells, Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses in Cornwall. The winners each received £500 to spend on IT equipment or services.

The first award was for the most innovative use of broadband. In this category, actnow was looking for novel, clever or unusual uses for broadband. The entries were short listed down to the following five finalists:

• Enact Energy (Camborne), for their state of the art broadband connection of 4 ADSL lines bonded together.

• The Rosslyn Hotel (Falmouth), who used low cost reliable technology to enable them to become one of the only hotels in Cornwall to offer broadband internet in all their rooms.

• Locally Ltd (Truro), for their exploitation of broadband in so many ways such as voice over internet sales, remote database updates and home working.

• Gaudis café (Truro), for their 'build your own' sandwich online facility.

• DF & MJ Rider (Truro), who exploit broadband to extract and publish aviation information globally whilst living and working in Cornwall.

The winner was The Rosslyn Hotel, Falmouth. Proprietor Roy Jobson said: "Offering broadband in every room gives us an edge in our competitive marketplace. We were surprised and delighted to receive this award, it means that our efforts were worth it."

The next award was for best website. Competition was fierce in this category as it included anything from basic brochure style websites to full e-commerce sites. In deciding upon this award, the judges took into account the type of business and its size and looked at whether the website was fit for purpose. The following companies were short listed:

• The Bear Mill (Redruth), an interactive website that allows customers to design a teddy bear complete with outfit and accessories. In the 6 months since launch the site has received 22,000 customers and has impressive turnover figures to match.

• Elixir Heath Foods (Wadebridge), for their full e-commerce site with a unique health encyclopaedia linking to purchases in less than three clicks. Elixir has also seen impressive increases in turnover and recently expanded their shop to include a packing area for their internet business.

• Hidden House Bulbs (St Austell), who developed their site in house very cost effectively and purposely kept it simple and user friendly. Their vivid descriptions of the various types of bulb on offer are enough to persuade even non gardeners to buy.

• Bluefish Promotions (St Austell), Bluefish upgraded their website in July 2003 and invested in internet marketing, which has increased their turnover more than threefold. All new enquiries now come via the web.

• Audio Therapy DnB Jungle UK (Callington), this internet radio station is at the heart of their community, writing and producing music for young people in Callington that they can then place online.

The award for best website was presented to Hidden House Bulbs. Dawn Molenkamp, owner of Hidden House Bulbs said: "The business is going from strength to strength. The entire business is internet based with sales across Europe. I have actually even sold tulip bulbs to a Dutchman in Holland. Going into the future, broadband can only widen the scope and efficiency of my business."

For the next category, the most improved business through the use of ICT. actnow were looking for examples of an enterprise really putting broadband at the heart of their business and using ICT to improve business performance. The short listed businesses in this category were:

• The Financial Advice Centre (Par), which has installed state of the art equipment in all three of its branches, enabling live video links between staff and customers. Broadband has enabled a quantum leap in efficiency, allowing the business to expand more rapidly than expected.

• Neutralize (Camborne), an internet marketing agency who practice what they preach and use the internet as their primary marketing, client liaison and management tool.

• Barlows Cycles and Hire (St Austell), since installing broadband, Barlows have been making great use of the technology from electronic communications to full electronic supply chain management. Since doing so, turnover has increased dramatically and greater returns are expected from a new real time hire booking system.

• Langmans Restaurant (Callington), which since the launch of their website and e-marketing programme now see 40% of new enquiries via the web and email enquiries quadrupled.

• (Truro), which is involved in the motor sport industry. Since 'diving into the online world' as they put it, they quickly discovered products could be sold globally. The business now relies on the internet for the majority of its business and is dealing with customers in over 30 countries. The business is set to expand and moved to new larger premises in April.

The award for the most improved business through the use of ICT went to Barlows Cycles. Nik Budden, partner said: "This is recognition of the improvements we have made to the business. Similar improvements are being made by businesses all over St Austell. Barlows has been in St Austell since 1949 and what we are achieving through broadband is part of the whole regeneration of the town. We will use the £500 prize to buy a new work station for the office as the current one is groaning under the weight of applications."

The next award was to celebrate a specific sector that actnow support, that is the best agricultural use of broadband. Here we were looking for the best use of broadband and ICT from the farming community. The short listed farms were:

• Chyreen Fruit Farm (Truro), for their hugely successful email marketing strategy, allowing them to create demand for their fruits at just the right time when they ripen.

• Menawicket Farm (Lostwithiel), who use the internet for so many uses, supplying information to Defra, dealing with other agencies like the British Potato Council and the Rural Payments Agency and also to support the proprietor's work as a lecturer.

• Ruses Mill (Launceston), who constantly use the internet for information and purchasing in relation to their new vineyard.

• Folly Farm (Penzance), who find the internet invaluable for dealing with cattle passport applications and have made significant savings by purchasing online.

• J Congdon & Sons of Ellbridge Farm (Saltash), for their use of a PDA and farming software to ensure information on their animals is completely up to date allowing greater efficiency and productivity.

The award for the best agricultural use of broadband went to Chyreen Fruit Farm. Phil Langdon, who owns Chyreen Fruit Farm, together with his wife Caroline, said: "Our customers have had the benefit of our website to see what fruit is ready when and now we've been rewarded too, it's the icing on the cake."

The final award was to recognise the best use of broadband to improve accessibility. This may be allowing employees to work from home, or perhaps enabling employment of staff with disabilities or those with young families. The businesses short listed were:

• Spanish Dreams 2 Reality (Truro), a family run property business. Rob Stone runs the UK side of the operation and as he is disabled has his office set up from home. A wireless broadband network allows him to work in different locations around the house to suit his needs.

• Mor Design (Falmouth), a landscaping design company which has taken remote working to its extreme and has two staff living and working in Australia.

• Nalders solicitors (Truro), who have invested in software and equipment to allow their partners to work from home and clients to access case information via their website.

• Preston Goldburn solicitors (Falmouth), the firm have installed broadband in the homes of 5 of their lawyers, allowing their specialist family lawyer to spend time with her two young children and continue to work from home. Their conveyancing team also use specialist secretaries, with young families working from home during evening and weekends to produce letters and reports ready for the solicitors when they come into the office the next morning.

• Kimberleys Estate Agents (Falmouth), as a working mother, their administration manager has also had broadband at home for some time and uses it to work remotely.

The award for the best use of broadband to improve accessibility went to Spanish Dreams 2 Reality. Rob Stone said: "I am absolutely delighted to be recognised in this way. Broadband has enabled us to really open up our business to new markets around the world."

Nigel Ashcroft, project director of actnow, said: "These awards are to celebrate the real heroes of the broadband revolution, the local business people who have the imagination, energy and innovation to make the most of what broadband can do and really transform their business."

For further information please contact Emma Lydon, of actnow on 01209 722850.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in actnow through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).


Editor's notes:



Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

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