THE CHALLENGE: How it started
In 2015, Luke founded &Element, a web design agency, and initially operated out of his apartment. The company provides clients with bespoke and innovative digital solutions to achieve and realise their online potential. Luke needed space to scale and grow although he worked with other remote freelancers, he needed dedicated resource to meet the client’s needs.
“The IWIC has pushed me forward by 6 months by helping me with connections, knowledge and access to funding" Luke Brown
The Ipswich Waterfront Innovation Centre (IWIC) at the University of Suffolk, offered Luke the perfect combination of location, cost and facilities. The co-working environment allowed Luke to collaborate with other businesses and network within the local community. The connections Luke made across the IWIC community were worth more than the membership fee. Luke believes he could never have made so many useful contacts who are willing to share technical information and business advice in any other location.
“The IWIC has been fundamental to my businesses success. From low-cost desk space to grant funding opportunities, business networking and everything in between - I cannot recommend this place enough.” Luke Brown
THE APPROACH: Supporting Growth
The University of Suffolk is one of eight Delivery Partners on KEEP+ (Knowledge Exchange Embed Partnerships) which offered SMEs funding towards 12 week graduate internships. &Element successfully applied for a KEEP+ Innovation Internship grant to recruit UX expertise to innovate a new product under development. The funded internship helped dramatically shorten the time to hiring the first full-time employee and marked a major milestone for &Element. The knowledge exchange was key on both sides of the internship. While Luke was able to grow his client base. He was also able to research and develop new, innovative technologies which he didn’t have the time to commit to before.
“While the projects and work we had coming in was great, we had an initial problem of scaling our work output. This is a real problem when you’re trying to run a dynamic company that is flexible and most importantly, reliable, to meet your clients needs.” Luke Brown
Luke has since recruited two further interns through KEEP+ and EIRA (Enabling Innovation: Research to Application) Innovation Internships programmes; Reuben Westrop Lead Graphic and Web Designer and Zoe Garnett Designer and Illustrator, both graduates of BA (Hons) Graphic Design at University of Suffolk. This enabled Luke to increase the portfolio of services on offer to his clients.
THE OUTCOME: Getting Results
Element Softworks recently graduated from the IWIC to their own office space at the Innovation Centre Knowledge Gateway on the University of Essex Campus. Luke’s ambitious plans have resulted in contracts with a range of well known household brands and developing a new innovative product to be released in 2022. To scale the business further &Element are recruiting again and Luke’s first call was to the University of Suffolk for more talented graduates to join the ever-growing team.
“There is a whole network of support available for young entrepreneurs. You just need to have an air of optimism and an open mind to find something or someone who can help your growth like I did.” Luke Brown
Find out more about the &Element team.