Small organisations across the North East find opportunities for growth in collaboration

Running a small business can be a difficult and, at times, lonely place. However, facilitated by support delivered through the Rural Design Centre, local organisations have found opportunities to grow by working together – a problem shared is a problem halved!

In 2022, the Rural Design Centre delivered a digital challenge, welcoming local businesses to bring forward new ideas to enhance the customer experience of Hadrian’s Wall utilising cutting edge digital methods. Venture Stream, a specialist e-commerce and digital marketing agency, and MAADIGITAL, experts in immerse design, both responded to the call but soon found they were stronger together.

Adele Robinson, creative director at Venture Stream describes their initial meeting: “It’s important to know what strengths you bring to the table, but equally important to recognise where you could bolster these strengths through collaboration. Through the workshops, the synergy between Venture Stream and MAADIGITAL was quickly realised, as our values, ethic and aims completely aligned.

“We knew that together, we could not just meet the brief of the Hadrian’s Wall Digital Challenge in its entirety butcould go above and beyond to achieve the very best for the organisation.”

Using a design-thinking approach to workshop delivery allows ideas flow quickly and, in the process, it becomes apparent which of those ideas are good and have potential, and which are not worth pursuing.

Vicky Hunter, account manager at MAADIGITAL, describes the workshop delivery as: “the more ideas you put out, the better you become, because you find out pretty quickly if they will work, how they are received and if there is anyone else there on the same wavelength with the same ideals in mind.

“For many smaller businesses, the events they attend are made up of attendees in the same field, and it can be challenging to share ideas but when the values and work ethic are the same, then it makes sense for complimentary fields to work together as there is no conflicting agenda, just a melting pot of ideas.”

Venture Stream and MAADIGITAL went on to collaborate and pitch an offering of a combined specialist, brand re-fresh and marketing campaign strategy from VentureStream and leveraging the digital experience of the MAADIGITAL team and their already established LetsARgo trail platform.

This combined effort was eventually chosen as the winning solution as part of the overall Digital Challenge and, as a result are now in the process of developing this along with the Hadrian’s Wall Partnership.

In the course of delivery of the Rural Design Centre Innovation Project, senior innovation manager, Liz Gray often works with community groups who have come together to work towards a mutual goal.

“I see working relationships, partnerships and collaborations, between businesses, community leaders and even village to village connections with those involved all working towards a shared goal. We work towards solutions to issues, and it can take the involvement of a number of businesses to move an idea forward due to the scale of the challenge.”

The Rural Design Centre Innovation Project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and part-funded by The North of Tyne Combined Authority.

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