Final say on the best in new business

WITH more than 6,000 small businesses in Huntingdonshire forming the backbone of the district s economy and with rapid housing expansion offering an increasing pool of local labour, the corporate barometer is set fair for robust new businesses. Three of t

WITH more than 6,000 small businesses in Huntingdonshire forming the backbone of the district's economy and with rapid housing expansion offering an increasing pool of local labour, the corporate barometer is set fair for robust new businesses.

Three of them have won through to the final judging that will decide which will be the Hunts Post Huntingdonshire New Business of the Year 2007, respectively offering complementary healthcare, healthy lifestyles and targeted innovation in computer software design.

The award is sponsored by Huntingdon-based Artisan Developments (UK) Limited, which has just announced a record year developing business parks targeted at new and growing businesses.

The judges will inevitably be looking for innovation in new products and services that make the fledgling business sustainable for the long term. They will also be seeking evidence of new ideas in management and business operation, and flexibility of the companies' business plans to changes in their markets.

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They will look at how the companies prepared to market their goods and services, how well their promotional activity worked and how they monitored feedback to their new ideas. They will also want to know how the businesses built on advice and will be looking for evidence of early success on which the future can be secured.

Cambridgeshire Sports Physio and Back Care was established in 2004 to provide physiotherapy and holistic therapies, in the belief that it could set itself apart from other complementary health providers. It is based in Abbots Ripton

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"Similar establishments tend to have a typically clinic-type atmosphere, unwelcoming waiting room, out-of-date magazines, cold decor, diagrams of bodily parts that intimidate, warnings against behaviour that leads to bad health. But we have created a soothing, calming atmosphere," said company founder Matt Taylor.

"We offer state-of-the-art technology for pain relief - we are the only physio practice in the UK with algonix electrotherapy - and free items post-treatment, assisting rehabilitation. We also offer appointments from 7am until 8pm."

As well as attracting patients from GPs in the area, the company has established links with the emergency services and private medical insurers.

Cleverly, the company drew on the experience of similar, but geographically remote, establishments with which the Abbots Ripton company would not be competing.

The Langdale Academy of Dance, in Eaton Socon, set itself up to provide classes not offered elsewhere in the district, such as freestyle and American street, stressing the chance for pupils to perform in public up to six times a year, rather than in a set-piece once every two years.

"Our aim was to offer dance to everyone, including those who could not afford to train professionally," said founder Tom Langdale, who started the school last year.

"Classes in the area cost between £40 and £120 a term for one class. Our fees per class per term are £15-£25, and our classes are longer than the closest rival. Our plan was to offer a wide choice of classes at low cost, meaning that more people could enrol in more than one class.

"We also offer a family discount and a sponsorship programme, meaning those with large families save money and those with talent who couldn't afford to take 10 classes a week can do so. This has proved very successful with 90 per cent of students enrolled in more than one class."

In the little more than six months since specialist software company RMIS Limited was established in Hartford, it has assembled an impressive list of blue chip clients, including Exeter Airport,, Oleander Press and Russell Fire.

It is also in trials with the Defence Aviation Research Agency, American Airlines and SELEX, and is waiting to start further trials with other high profile customers for its risk management software.

RMIS has used support from Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce to help it refine the software through free trials for member companies.

"As a small company, RMIS Limited realised very early on that sustainable growth could only be possible through a combination of the use of well designed software, technology to manage the core business functions and agents to promote the software across as many diverse industry bases as possible,," said founder Robert Garbett.

"This model has served us well, allowing us to target multiple industries, significantly reduce our marketing costs and provide a high-quality service.

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