Breakthrough calls for business to innovate its way out of the pandemic

Bradford Breakthrough says the city’s businesses should try to innovate their way out of the financial difficulties caused by the Coronavirus lockdown.

The organisation, which represents the senior leaders of influential businesses and organisations across the city, says that, with no end in sight to the emergency measures, firms need to adapt to survive wherever they can.

Breakthrough chief executive Trevor Higgins said: “It’s becoming increasingly clear that there is no quick way out of the current lockdown and many businesses could face restrictions on their trading for many months to come.  Even with the unprecedented levels of Government support, it’s likely to be survival of the fittest and, by that, we mean those who are able to maintain their cash flow and revenues by finding new ways to extend and shape their business model.

“Of course, it’s not the answer for everybody – we understand just how difficult this situation is for many small businesses, in particular, who depend on providing a long-established traditional service to a loyal customer base.  But where there is room to develop, where there is scope for a change of direction or the development of an idea that’s been hanging around, now may well be a good time to start looking at building a wider customer base to help bring in business from a new market.”

Dr Higgins said there were already some “brilliant” examples of Bradford firms opening up new markets in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Bob Gomersall , Chairman, BTL Group Ltd.

“For instance, the three successful local businesses run by Breakthrough’s chairman, Bob Gomersall – BTL Group Ltd, Virtual College Holdings Ltd, and Advanced Digital Innovations (UK) Ltd – have all developed online services that can help customers in the current Covid-19 crisis,” said Dr Higgins.

“One of them, Saltaire-based BTL, which has just won a Queens Award for Enterprise in International Trade, has introduced an Online Invigilation Service to help universities, colleges and other educational institutions who are unable to deliver exams on site to monitor students remotely as they sit their tests in a secure home environment.”

Dr Gomersall said: “The company was founded, has grown, and has remained in Yorkshire, and we are very proud that the technology we provide is used all over the world. It is great to think that assessment technology for many organisations around the world comes from Saltaire, Yorkshire.

“We have advocated and embraced remote working technology for 35 years and we are very proud that our technology has a positive role to play in the current COVID-19 pandemic.”

Dr Higgins also cited the example of Delifresh, a Bradford-based food wholesaler which normally supplies top chefs and restaurants in the region, which launched an online emergency food store and delivery service.

“Delifresh realised that many people needed to avoid contact in food stores and supermarkets but were struggling to find a source of home delivery,” he said. “So they launched the new service through their website and are reported to have so far taken more than 15,000 orders.  It’s a fabulous example of a company spotting an opportunity to not only help the local community but also develop their business in a new area.”

He added: “There are many more firms already starting to show the innovation and commercial acumen that Bradford is renowned for in response to these very difficult times.

“Our city has a long and proud history of coping with change and we’re sure that with the right support and a dash of creativity, we can come through this crisis with a strong economic future ahead.”


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