Let’s Talk Business: how PAPI funding helped firm go the Distance

30th Nov

Set up in 2009, The Distance, based in York, is a mobile app development company that develops cutting-edge apps for start-ups or mobile/digital transformation solutions for national and global enterprises.
It is a platform-focused expert in Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Facebook’s React native. The agency has been developing apps since the introduction of the first iPhone and has created more than 100 mobile applications for its clients. Since the company set up in 2009, they grew steadily from two staff to 19 by 2018.
During 2018, managing director Anthony Main had innovative plans for continued business growth. While developing apps for clients, The Distance recognised an opportunity to develop a framework solution to allow them to provide services in a more efficient and cost-effective way.
The majority of apps use very common functionality – which can then be personalised or amended as the brief requires. Repeating the process for each client was costly and time-consuming. In light of this, The Distance began to develop The Core, a web-based software product that would provide essential content and data services to mobile applications.
The Distance was introduced to the Product and Process Innovation (PAPI) project during the planning stages. PAPI provides 40% grants for equipment to enable innovation. Between £8k and £20k funding is available for projects costing £20,000 or more.
To help develop The Core, The Distance was awarded a £20,000 grant from the PAPI Project to purchase several software ‘building blocks’. The funding allowed them to make significant progress in development earlier than planned.
The benefits of The Core’s development have been felt across the business. The Distance can now provide a unique selling point as customers only invest in bespoke features. The company can now provide a full end-to-end app development life cycle and a more stable and evolving code base, which is faster to use and enables efficiency savings for customers.
Unlike other third party data services, The Core is platform-agnostic and therefore can be hosted internally on the customer’s preferred cloud service. The module structure and system architecture also enable The Distance to fully customise the backend interface. The backend system is then available to anyone with an internet connection and browser software. Little training and experience is needed to use the product.
The developments also reduced the skill requirements across the product development life cycle, meaning junior staff are able to work on more interesting and fulfilling project features. Overall, these efficiency improvements made a major contribution to a 40% increase in turnover target and led to three new staff being employed. The Core has been featured in a variety of applications for clients including the NHS, British Forces Foundation and EDF Energy.
Innovative companies, such as The Distance, can benefit from funding from the PAPI project. Up to £20,000 funding is available for SME businesses in the East Riding, York, North and West Yorkshire, and it will be available through to mid-2022. 
The PAPI project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014 to 2020. The project is open for applications now. Businesses can quickly check their eligibility and apply on the website at papi.org.uk or by calling 01904 328076.


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