Name: Interactive Scientific
Founded in: 2013
Tip: “Make sure that your business foundations are really strong and that you trust those people around you.”
Interactive Scientific creates technology that helps people understand the scientific world. The Bristol-based business initially focused on the education space, but the market was slow to pick up new technology. It meant the number of schools that were ready to invest was limited.
To develop their products and grow into new markets, CEO Becky Sage knew they would need to collaborate with bigger businesses. However, they worried about getting “sucked into” a company that might exploit their status as a small business.
When it came to choosing companies to collaborate with, the team wanted to find people they felt comfortable around. As Becky explained, “a collaboration is only valuable if you’re not losing things along the way”.
The company’s first collaboration was with University of Bristol and University of Edinburgh. Interactive Scientific worked with them to publish a whitepaper exploring the uses of its technology in the pharmaceutical sector. The research community picked up the paper, confirming there was an appetite for Interactive Scientific products in that space.
The company then joined Oracle’s cloud accelerator programme in Bristol. Oracle was local and the people there were open and upfront. They felt reassured that Oracle wasn’t just interested in their IP or getting them fixed to Oracle’s cloud products.
The programme enabled Interactive Scientific to work alongside experienced engineers and use reliable cloud infrastructure. They were also mentored by entrepreneurs who had built and sold successful businesses. “You start to see the kind of ambitions you can reach for,” Becky said.
Interactive Scientific took advantage of Oracle’s marketing activity too – something that had been previously limited for the small business.
“They did a campaign that was in airports worldwide and on the Underground. Those things make you seem a lot bigger to potential customers. It’s really important when you’re selling amongst big players,” Becky said.
The company has had some challenging experiences with collaboration, but it’s ultimately been rewarding. The collaboration with Oracle has connected Interactive Scientific with new customers and given them cloud credits, so they can test out different ways of working. To recognise the company’s achievements, Becky also won Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation award.
“I’ve done a lot of work around self-worth, both with myself and the company. It’s easy to feel like you’re working with the big boys, but you have to know the value of your company and what you’ve put in. That way, if people are exploiting you, you can stand up and say, ‘we’re worth more than that’.”