How Clarion UK is shaping the future of inclusivity with Growth Works’ support
A Cambridgeshire-based British Sign Language (BSL) company, Clarion UK, has seen tremendous growth in the past year. As the largest BSL agency in the UK, they are pioneering technology to allow every deaf and hard-of-hearing person to receive the support they need, no matter where they are.
In 2021, Clarion has gone from strength to strength with the successful soft launch of the first BSL screens within train stations to alert deaf and hard-of-hearing people of disruptions and updates. The turnaround time (within one hour of announcements) on BSL translation is heights above any competition, propelled forwards due to the company’s recent technological advances.
Having to pivot 50% of their in-person interpretation services to online, the pandemic spurred on a change and opened up new opportunities for innovation. “We came through covid with a lot of energy…and our response time has never been better”, says Sally, Clarion’s Chief Executive. Now, Clarion can provide more digital services for deaf and hard-of-hearing people than ever before.
The challenge: Overcoming technical, intellectual property, and legal challenges
Clarion is looking to launch brand-new technology in 2022 that will allow even more people to access sign-language services. With an exciting, future-forward idea for BSL inclusivity, Clarion has ambitious plans:
“We have just done a business plan and we are looking at almost doubling our growth by 2026. That’s quite a game-changer in terms of traditional business growth. But in the beginning, we had three blockers: the first one was who owned the IP (to their new product), the second was getting some tech skills into the project, and the third one was funding.”
However, Clarion’s main focus was finding the right technology, as “tech IP is probably one of the most challenging topics you can pick in business, so just having people who know what they are doing has been brilliant” whilst navigating complex legal issues that they had no experience in, says Sally.
With great ideas and a well-established company already behind her, Sally needed momentum and specialist advice to prove their new idea was viable for the AI technology they’re planning to bring to the market.
The solution: Strategic business growth support to introduce new life-changing technology
Knowing they needed business advice on their complex plan and financial support, in early 2021, she was recommended to Growth Works.
When recalling her experience, she said Growth Works were “responsive, down to earth, honest, and quick in their approach”, “blowing the competition out of the water” when it came to looking for funding and business support. With a clear idea about how Growth Works could help her, she began the application process.
Blowing the competition out of the water…
Clarion has now received business mentoring and two types of grants from Growth Works: capital grants and revenue grants.
Reflecting on the time since receiving funding, Sally says:
“Like everything, it never quite works out as you planned but I read the project plan and it looks like we are on track to hit the milestones”.
The mentoring has helped with “external validation that what we were doing, we were on the right track. (Growth Works) have also been very good at pointing out the priorities about the legal/IP issues. In setting up a new service, in terms of focusing my mind, my advisers through the programme have been great”.
The outcome: One step ahead of the competition with inclusivity and further team growth into 2022
Growth Works supplied funding that helped with research, technical products, and specifically helped with the law and intellectual property issues. Sally said, “funding has been rocket-fuel for the tank” and the support has helped them stay on track. This has allowed Clarion to be ahead of schedule with their prototype launch by 2 months.
Having expert advice about complex issues from Growth Works advisers has helped Clarion to reach their milestones. Sally said that due to the support and extra funding, “things keep falling into place and continue to do so”, overcoming barriers to take their new product into its next phase of development.
Clarion’s team has also grown by four full-time employees in 2021, with plans to keep hiring through their product launch in 2022.
After winning a contract with Canterbury Christ Church University, they will also be supporting the next generation’s growth by helping people from the local community with hearing and mental health problems through apprenticeships.
Throughout a time of “50% stress and 50% excitement” for Sally and the future of Clarion, Growth Works has helped provide structure and essential advice for the business, allowing them to manage a large period of growth and change.
Sally is “really glad Growth Works exists as they’ve given concrete advice” alongside awarding them the revenue and capital grant funding. She would 100% recommend other eligible companies who are looking to grow their business to get in touch with Growth Works.
Could your business benefit from expert support and funding to help you unlock further growth? Click here to check your eligibility and tell us about your business to join our programme.
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