Whether it’s experiencing the sensation of arriving on a foreign planet, getting to play out the role of an orthopaedic surgeon or smelling and tasting as a dog would, these are some of the many ways this innovative UK company has brought science to life for the UK public.
But, when government restructures meant a change in tack and funding, there was no way Boosted Education was going to miss a golden opportunity to hit the overseas market with their creative approach to interpreting science and educating youngsters.
The company itself, which is based in Norwich, was founded by Dr George Forster, a former health authority Chief Executive who wanted to take his own passion for science interpretation and link that with educating young people – and indeed, their parents.
His approach was fun, interactive….and quickly successful.
The company developed a number of science centres and the activity programmes within them. They included, among others, Dundee’s Sensation, ThinkTank in Birmingham and You are Amazing @ Bristol.
Business took an unexpectedly sharp turn, however, when the government suddenly axed specific project funding in 2010.
“After the Millennium, money which had previously funded us – via the Government and the Wellcome Trust – simply dried up,” said George.
“What’s more, the new coalition Government cut the Gifted and Talented education programme altogether, which meant we lost 80% of our business in just two months.
“We had no choice but to contract our existing business and to cut eight members of staff in one go.”
Some might have sat back with their head in their hands, but George, who is simply too passionate about the intrigue of science to leave the stories behind it untold, knew he had to look to other means of business activity.
“Life is too short not to be doing something you love, so we looked in another direction, and our solution was to go abroad,” he continued.
“I knew of UKTI and was adamant that that must be our first approach, as we wanted people who knew the patch and could help us market ourselves.
“We entered into the Gateway programme, and very quickly, things took off and we found ourselves contracted by the Science Centre in Singapore to develop an exhibition about the human body.”
This rapid success story came through a rapport with UKTI international trade advisor John Rimmer, which continues to keep the company on track to this day.
John said: “Boosted has been through an incredible time in the years they’ve been working with UKTI.
“They are such a success story, because they saw themselves enormously affected by the loss of the domestic market, but now have repositioned and are doing all their work internationally.
“They have used a wide breadth of UKTI services, spanning our Passport scheme, Gateway and OMIS and are now a key member of the Export Club.”
He added: “What is great about Boosted is that they may call on me for advice and guidance, but they drive hard themselves and are fantastic people who really want to educate others and make that learning fun.
“They proved without a doubt that even when you face difficult times, if you’re resourceful and want to achieve, you will.”
The refocus to an international audience has seen Boosted continue to develop, and the company now has a number of tender submissions on which it is awaiting answers, and the not so insignificant matter of a £2.5 million signing confirmed in recent weeks.
“We found out very recently that we now have a £2.5 million contract in Hong Kong to redevelop the province’s Space Centre,” George said.
“It will give youngsters a great opportunity to interact on matters of the universe and space travel, and it will open in 2015.
“We’re particularly delighted with this contract because it was won against stiff international competition and also enables us to bring some aspects of the contract work back here into the UK for the completion phase.”
The securing of such contracts could not, he is adamant, have come without the crucial relationship developed with UKTI.
He said: “Our relationship with UKTI has been absolutely indispensable. Yes, they steer toward funding for the financial aspect, but that really isn’t everything.
“For us, it’s also been so important that we’ve had that sympathetic support throughout the process of finding an international market, plus unrivalled knowledge and experience of that territory.
“We’ve thrown ourselves into the various programmes, continued to use UKTI tools like the OMIS initiative for further market research, and recently become a founder member of the East Anglian Export Club – which brings exceptional networking opportunities for us.”He added: “Our future business plan is all about focusing on the science centre development work around the world.
“I see big opportunities in India, as well as our current discussions in the Middle East and Far East.“What I know is that the UKTI support and services will continue to play a key part in how we progress.”
If you are based in the East of England region re interested in developing your business overseas please contact:
Tel: 0845 641 9955
Countries: East Anglia and Singapore
Topics: Getting Started