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The Entrepreneurial Exchange

Finalists Who Reflect Spirit Of Enterprise

Finalists who reflect spirit of enterpriseScotland's entrepreneurial spirit will be recognised when the Entrepreneurial Exchange Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 awards are presented in front of 800 guests at a dinner at the Glasgow Hilton hotel on Thursday, November 29.

Sponsored by The Herald, Bank of Scotland Corporate and Deloitte, the awards fall into two categories: Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year and Entrepreneur of the Year.

Our preview of the three short-listed finalists in each category begins with the nominations for Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year.

Name: Jim Hall.

Company: Wideblue.

Location: Dumbarton.

Started: Wideblue Ltd commenced Feb 2006.

Employees: 17.

Financial: Wide Blue currently has expected revenue for 2007 of £1.2m.

After spending 16 years grappling with the challenges attendant on rapid technological change in the camera industry at Polaroid, Jim Hall has built a successful business out of helping start-ups take their inventions beyond the design stage and into production.

Hall joined Polaroid in 1990 as a consultant and worked in Mexico, Holland and at the company's film and camera production plant at Vale of Leven in West Dunbartonshire.

He founded what is now Wideblue in 2001 as a development operation staffed by highly-skilled specialists in areas such as physics, electronics, software and mechanical engineering working solely for Polaroid.

As work from its struggling parent company declined, it was decided that Wideblue should be formally established as a separate business unit capable of securing work from outside sources.

Some three years later, with Polaroid accounting for just 10% of the workload, executives decided that Wideblue should be spun off completely.

A new operation with 15 employees was bought out of Polaroid last March in a six-figure deal.

Led by Hall, management took 80%, with the remaining 20% owned by Spring Works, the private venture capital firm of Minnesota-based entrepreneur Tom Petters, who bought Polaroid in 2005.

With expertise in developing products in areas ranging from cameras to sophisticated measuring machines, Hall was sure Wideblue could provide a valuable service for start-ups and SMEs trying to turn bright ideas into reality.

He also saw the opportunity to invest in new technology businesses where Wideblue could add value and increase the chance of success for these new companies.

Results to date suggest that his confidence was justified.

After leaving Polaroid with an order book worth £1m annually, Hall has grown Wideblue into an international force. Turnover for the Wideblue group of companies is expected to be £40m in three to four years.

Key aims for the year ahead are to sell Wideblue's skills as design consultant and also to spot innovative products it can invest in and help take to the market.

The investment portfolio already includes a breast cancer screening device and a system for temperature-controlled protein crystal growth, and Hall has three further investments lined up for the forthcoming year.

Deloitte comments: Jim was selected as a finalist because he showed a wide range of skills and entrepreneurial characteristics; a corporate background with a deal of autonomy allowing entrepreneurial thinking.

We believe Jim is a thinker, bright and a very experienced manager in a number of areas from IT to marketing.

He is also an excellent communicator. Jim delivered a clever deal with the MBO from Polaroid and has a clear view of what Wideblue is, what it can achieve and how it will deliver its strategy.

Name: Ana Stewart.

Company: i-design.

Location: Fife.

Started: 1991.

Employees: 31.

Financial: Projections for 2007 revenue exceed £1m.

Ana Stewart founded i-design as a multimedia consultancy in 1991, but has made a name for herself as a genuine pioneer in the field of turning the humble cash machine into a powerful marketing tool.

A design specialist, Stewart spent much of the 1990s helping banks and the like improve the appearance and ease of use of the thousands of ATMs (automatic teller machine) that they had installed across the UK.

Around one billion ATM transactions carried out in the UK annually now incorporate graphical content generated by the company.

However, Stewart's great breakthrough came after she spotted a bigger opportunity in helping ATM owners and operators use the machines for marketing their own products or those of third parties.

In 2004, i-design launched the ATM:ad product as part of which it offers clients support in designing and running marketing campaigns on ATMs.

The product is now installed on more than 2100 ATMs throughout the UK, delivering approx 210 million transactions per annum.

Customers already include Nationwide Building Society, HSBC and Alliance & Leicester and further major contracts are in the pipeline.

With its own media sales office in London, i-design has won major campaigns from blue-chip advertisers including British Airways, Orange and the Home Office.

In April, it won a world first when Nivea used ATM:ad Insight to run a gender targeted campaign on ATMs across the UK.

The company recently obtained a listing on the Alternative Investment Market, in a move that boosted its credibility and profile giving Stewart a platform to grow the company internationally.

Deloitte comments: Ana has played a key role in shaping the business and creating the strong relationships that the company enjoys with its clients.

She was selected as a finalist because she shows great passion and commitment to growing her business.

We were also impressed by the fact that her software is world-leading, with huge potential for growth due to the range of applications it can achieve.

Name: Peter Morrison.

Company: RMJM.

Location: Headquartered in Edinburgh.

Started: Joined the board of MJM in 2003. Became the full-time group chief executive in August 2006.

Employees: Approximately 1200.

Financial: Projections for next year over £8m profit.

The son of one of the Scottish construction industry's best known figures, Sir Fraser Morrison, former Guardsman Peter Morrison has earned his spurs by helping a leading architectural practice achieve its commercial potential.

After studying law at Dundee University, Morrison junior completed officer's training at Sandhurst military college, followed by a short service commission as an officer in The Royal Scots.

He then completed an MBA course at Imperial College, London.

In 2003, he became a non-executive director of MJM. This is the holding company for RMJM, a UK-based international practice which took over as lead architect on the Scottish Parliament building after the death of Enric Miralles.

The year previously, his father took a 56% stake in the business.

He was appointed chief executive in 2006 in a bid to develop the company into a full service design operation working to effective commercial disciplines.

While RMJM's design-led work was well-regarded in professional circles, when Peter Morrison joined it was an under-performing, poorly structured business with a latent underlying potential.

In the last four years, he has won plaudits for creating an operational platform, incorporating business processes, management and effective communication, that the company needed to work as a business.

Morrison has led RMJM through a period of international expansion focused particularly on rapidly emerging and global markets including Russia.

RMJM's designers have won some of the most prestigious projects in the world including the athletes' village which is part of Glasgow's successful 2014 Commonwealth Games bid and Gazprom's 400m twisting glass Okhta Centre in St Petersburg, Russia.

With Morrison taking the lead in spotting opportunities and negotiating deals, RMJM has hit the international acquisition trail.

In June this year, RMJM and Hillier, one of the largest architectural design firms in the US, announced plans to merge their US operations, creating a combined entity with global reach.

Deloitte comments: Peter was selected as a finalist because he has a great ambition to grow what was an under-performing Scottish-based business into the largest architectural practice in the world.

He has shown strong leadership and management ability, has completed a significant acquisition to ensure global coverage and is managing the integration process to develop a strong brand and culture.

 

12:19am today

By MARK WILLIAMSON

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