A DENTAL hygiene supplies specialist is all smiles after new grant funding helped it take a bigger bite out of its online market. Barnard Castle-based Aura Infection Control – which trades under Quality Water Specialists – accessed the North East Business Support Fund to help it enhance its digital profile and open up new online markets.

The family firm, which is overseen by managing director Laura Edgar has established a reputation for excellence in the dental sector since it was first created by Laura’s parents Richard and Jayne Warren, 15 years ago.

“We are a family business that was started in my parents’s dining room,” said Laura. “My father is very much an entrepreneur, who saw an opportunity to capitalise on a niche market and together with my mother, a teacher and microbiologist, the idea turned into business, before they even knew it.

“The business grew and expanded and my dad built a very basic website, but it wasn’t until about five years ago when my brother joined the business to upgrade the website that we began to really understand the potential for it to enhance our business.

“Hardly any of our trade came through the website and we realised that had to change.”

The NEBSF, administered by enterprise agency NBSL, helped the company research the best ways to reach potential online markets and hone its digital offer, leading to a significant rise in online sales.

Laura added: “Essentially, we recruited a digital marketing company to come and tell us what we were doing well and what we could be doing better – and this had an immediate impact. We went from a website that had very little traffic to having 300 of our customers registered on it.

“We are now getting a great deal of national traffic, with many sales and customer interactions coming directly through the website. Having seen what can be achieved we enrolled our marketing team on some additional training so we can improve our social media activity.”

Businesses across the region can apply for a share of a £2million pot created to spur on the growth of small and medium enterprises.

NEBSF is providing funding for over 1,400 North East businesses, and is expected to create over 700 jobs in the process.

Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the scheme takes the fuss out of funding – making it easier for businesses to access support that can help with the costs of specific projects designed to help them grow. It is the third phase of the fund, which was first available in April 2012.

NEBSF advisor, John Atkinson, worked closely with Aura Infection Control to help them access the grant funding.

John said: “Laura and her team had a desire to maximise the potential of the business and recognised that the online offer was an area that required improvement.

“The NEBSF funding was delivered quickly and with minimum fuss, helping them seek and recruit the help they needed to improve their website and digital marketing. It’s fantastic that they have seen an immediate impact.”

NEBSF will provide 35 per cent of funding for projects costing between £3,000 - £8,000, with the maximum funding amount standing at £2,800. The offer is available to small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s) based in the North East that are planning to grow.

NBSL is currently supporting businesses based in the North East Local Enterprise Partnership area, namely: Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland. For more information about the North East Business Support Fund, call 01670 813322, visit www.nbsl.org.uk of follow @nbsl_info on Twitter.


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