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Meet the Disruptors: Changing the face of East Anglian business

PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:57 07 August 2019

Meet the Disruptors: These are the East of England firms set to shake up the boardroom. Picture: Archanr

Meet the Disruptors: These are the East of England firms set to shake up the boardroom. Picture: Archanr

Archant

Bosses in the East of England who are turning the hierarchy on its head have shared how they are shaking up their industries.

The Disruptors video series launches today and focuses on boundary-breaking firms across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridge specialising in everything from Internet of Things technology to manufacturing.

A total of 40 businesses from across the region will be featured.

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The first video of the series will be a feature on Norfolk's contactless payment company Thyngs.

Founder Neil Garner said that being a disruptive business wasn't about an individual idea but enabling a wider market: "If it's challenging and complicated and you need to think about what you have to do to refine it so that all the people currently in the industry can win.

"The nature of being a disruptor is that it's simple, easy, works better than what is currently available, and is a win for everybody."

Later in the series Suffolk's Spark EV will be featured, a company which has created software to predict the real-time battery life of electric vehicles.

The software uses a range of data including driving style, atmospheric conditions and previous trips, to remove anxiety for drivers about whether their vehicles will run out of power.

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The project was launched by Justin Ott in 2017. He said: "When we began no-one was addressing the market at all - people didn't see inaccurate range predictions as a problem. By demonstrating that this was a real need we showed the industry how important this was, and that we could help them overcome the challenge."

But having a bright idea alone isn't enough to disrupt an emerging market, enterprises have to be adaptable to work in an evolving market.

Mr Ott said: "Initially we were looking to sell the solution to individual businesses, in order for them to use it with their fleets, accessing Spark through a smartphone app.

"Addressing this size of market was difficult for a start-up and we realised that the greater opportunity was embedding Spark within existing in-car entertainment/SatNav systems.

"We therefore reworked our technology and are now in advanced discussions with multiple major automotive companies, as well as having completed successful trials with BP."

The video project, produced by media company Archant, is backed by the University of East Anglia and the Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor.

Professor Fiona Lettice, pro-vice-chancellor for research and innovation at the university, said: "While people outside of our region are becoming more aware of the booming tech sector in the East, there are many more success stories across a range of sectors - including agriculture, bioscience, finance, health, heritage and retail - that are less well known.

"This is an opportunity to shine a light on some the pioneering companies across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire that are shaking up their industries, looking to the future, and working towards solving some of the major global challenges that affect us all."

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Tech Corridor programme director Linn Clabburn said: "The recent Tech Nation report showed East Anglia has more than 19,000 tech businesses, which turned over £8.3bn last year and employ 89,000 talented staff. We at the Tech Corridor are certain this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the region's potential.

"The Disruptors provides a perfect platform to showcase some of these brilliant firms. From the food and plant science specialists and digital creativity of Norwich, to the cutting-edge genomics and deep tech work going on in Cambridge, via the hidden gems in the heart of the Tech Corridor, our clusters really are inspirational."

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