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Innovative internet-based magazine management solution set to revolutionise publishing sector.

The search for Kent’s brightest entrepreneur is over. Maidstone based Purelabs has beaten over 70 hopefuls to claim the £20,000 cash prize in the 2009 Kent Innovation Challenge.

The prize was awarded to Purelabs for its innovative publishing solution Intelligent Flatplan – the world’s first internet based magazine management solution – at a gala dinner at the Kent 2020 business exhibition on Thursday 2 April.

Purelabs’ Intelligent Flatplan offers magazine and newspaper publishers the opportunity to replace paper, spreadsheet or DTP-based flatplans with an web-based planning system that enables every user of the publication team to see the same view, wherever they are in the world and irrespective of whether they are using PCs or Apple Macs.

Paul Walsh, chairman of the Kent Innovation Challenge judging panel said: “Jon and the Purelabs team have identified a real gap in the market and devised an excellent solution that will not just help their own publishing business, but many other publishers around the world.

“This year’s competition was extremely tough and Purelabs are worthy winners. All of the judges at the Kent Innovation Challenge wish Purelabs every success.”

Jon and Michelle Barrett who run Purelabs devised Intelligent Flatplan after spotting a gap in the market for a IT solution to serve their own publishing business.

Jon explains: “We researched the market thoroughly but there was nothing there to suit our businesses needs so we developed a prototype and took it to the publishing Expo in February 2008. We were inundated with requests for information so this gave us the confirmation we needed that there would be a demand for such a product.

“And this really is a Kent innovation as it is conceived, designed and executed in the county. We have also received help from the University of Kent who put us in touch with suitable software developers and the Canterbury Enterprise Hub.

“Winning the competition means that we can accellerate the product development from 12-18 months to as little as 3-6 months. We have already begun to generate export opportunities and the video production element of the prize will be particularly useful to exploit and maximize our online presence.”

Purelabs beat four other finalists to the top prize and in addition to the £20,000 cash prize they will also receive:

  • Free rent for one year at the Sittingbourne Enterprise Hub at the Kent Science Park
  • Legal support from Vertex Law to the value of £5,000
  • Business coaching from Skills for Business to the value of £6,000
  • Filming and production of a corporate video to the value of £5,000 from Lavender Blue Media
  • Two years free membership of the Confederation of British Industry
  • Public relations advice to the value of £1,500 from Coast Communications

Amanda Lucus, from the Sittingbourne Enterprise Hub and the organiser of the Kent Innovation Challenge judging panel adds: “Innovation is alive and well in Kent. Over the past four years we have had hundreds of hopefuls accept the Kent Innovation Challenge. All of this year’s finalists should be proud of their achievements and we wish them all the best in their endeavours.”

The Kent Innovation Challenge is supported by South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), Sittingbourne Enterprise Hub Ltd., Medway Enterprise Hub, Canterbury Enterprise Hub, Kent County Council, Kent Science Park, Business Link Kent, Vertex Law, NatWest, Coast Communications, Lavender Blue Media, the University of Greenwich, Leggere Kent on Sunday and the University of Kent.

April 2009

Users Total number of users: 6076 Flatplans Total number of flatplans: 35015 Pages Total number of pages: 2525364