Helena has designs on expansion at Sunderland’s North East Bic

Helena Borthwick-Hill
Helena Borthwick-Hill
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Helena Borthwick-Hill has designs on expansion.

Helena’s business, user experience consultancy and website developer 49digital Ltd, is celebrating a move into its first business premises.

The BIC’s support is significant to our business and we have also been lucky enough to receive help from Neil Clasper from Sunderland City Council’s business investment team who helped us secure funding for some equipment.

Helena Borthwick-Hill

Established in 2010, the firm has now moved into offices at the North East Business and Innovation Centre (Bic) on the Sunderland Enterprise Park.

Helena set up the business while living in Vancouver alongside husband Geoff, who at the time was an airline pilot on sabbatical leave: “When we first moved to Vancouver I had just finished my master’s degree in planning and was employed by the Urban Development Institute (UDI) as a researcher,” he said.

“Geoff had an interest in web development so we started 49digital, providing web services and social media management to the UDI.

“In 2011, we came back to the UK and carried on with the business until we decided to take a break to re-evaluate the direction in which we wanted to take it.

“Geoff went back to flying and I took this time to do lots of training. I love learning and am passionate about what I do so this break was very relevant to how the business stands today.

“During the past six months we have been working closely with Ross Golightly from Sphera Consulting who has been helping us grow 49digital. Alongside moving into our new offices we now have a growing team of developers and UX consultants and are successfully delivering user-centred design to a range of industries across the region.

“We are keen to work with growth-focussed companies who are looking to seriously increase visitor conversion and revenue by adopting a user-centred approach,” she said.

“Now that we work with larger businesses, we felt that the time was right to move into our first premises, rather than work from a home office. After visiting the BIC we knew it was where we needed to be.

“The Bic’s support is significant to our business and we have also been lucky enough to receive help from Neil Clasper from Sunderland City Council’s business investment team who helped us secure funding for some equipment.”

Bic Centre manager Donna Surtees adds: “We aim to offer an all-round package of support as well as high quality business space so I’m delighted to hear that Helena and her team are already benefiting from the BIC’s supportive environment.”