Leamington firm’s prize for Dominica project

JON GRIFFIN

Innovation & Technology Editor

jon.griffin@birminghammail.net

One multi-national and one regional company are already in early festive mood – after winning Chair’s Awards for Excellence at the ICT Excellence Awards in the West Midlands.

Both companies were recognised for exemplary work and were selected by the ICT Cluster executive board.

Winner Microsoft has contributed and spearheaded a range of initiatives which significantly assist in the economic development of small to medium-sized ICT companies in the region.

Through a string of initiatives, including input into the strategic direction of the technology industry in the Midlands, work with the West Midlands Learning and Skills Council, partner roundtables and identifying suitable companies for their ISV Start-Up Programme, Microsoft has supported the ICT Cluster to deliver on its strategic plan.

Matt Lambert, director of corporate affairs at Microsoft, said: “The West Midlands is a vibrant area with talented and innovative people. Our work in the region is designed to foster that talent, by providing skills training, infrastructure and advice to individuals and new technology businesses.

“The programmes developed in partnership with local groups, such as the IT Apprenticeship Pilot, the Microsoft IT Academy and the BizSpark Programme, could form a blueprint for work in other regions in the UK, and maybe other countries across the world.

“We’re delighted to accept the Chair’s ICT Excellence Award for the part we have played in helping people in the West Midlands realise their full potential.”

Meanwhile, Leamington Spa-based NS Optimum took home the Chair’s Award for Corporate Social Responsibility.

In 2007, NS Optimum began to recondition used, serviceable computers, which schools and other customers decided to replace, and donated them to schools on Dominica in the Caribbean.

The team began to co-ordinate a sustained project, which they maintain every year, to refurbish used machines and to persuade manufacturers to donate new computers, servers and other hardware to the island’s schools.

The team delivered the donated equipment personally and prepared the technical ground for installation in Dominican schools.

To maintain the network they built, two team members staff the Caribbean subsidiary set-up for the purpose.

The social responsibility project has since led to commercial opportunities for the Leamington company.

Gavin Rose, managing director at NS Optimum, said: “This project is a labour of love but we think it’s a fantastic thing to do. Our work has truly benefited the schoolchildren of Dominica and that’s a very cool thing for us to have achieved.

“Each year we’re able to do more and more and it’s great the generosity of schools, the chief donors of our equipment, have been willing to get involved.

“We’re very proud we’ve been chosen to win this award and hopefully it will gain us wider recognition.”

Mike Musson, ICT Cluster manager, added: “The Chair’s Award is sponsored by the West Midlands ICT Cluster and, as such, the nominee must, as part of their activities, bring benefit to the region’s ICT SME community.”