In this new series, we will introduce you to the innovation pioneers of Ealing – small businesses with big dreams of doing new or better things to benefit our area and beyond.
In November last year, Ealing Council launched its pioneers fund, a scheme that provides grants to small and medium sized businesses to help them grow, develop new products or expand their workforce while stimulating the local economy. The £1million pot was shared out among 12 selected businesses based in the borough, that were each able to demonstrate how the funding would help accelerate growth and create new jobs.
Meet the pioneers
In the second part of the series, you can meet Peter and Susan from Go Create Academy and find out more about their business.
Based at the University of West London, Go Create Academy offers creative media courses and qualifications.
How it started
With backgrounds in TV, radio and music, Peter and Susan recognised a lack of specialised creative skills which inspired them to set up their business in February 2020. They started delivering unique courses, such as vlogging, podcasting, mobile film making, creative sound and media production. Little did they know that with the arrival of the global pandemic the supply and demand for similar online courses will significantly increase.
Peter, co-founder says: “Not only the areas of our courses have not been addressed, but also the value of the skillset wasn’t really appreciated. I’ve seen from personal experience how education and upskilling can transform industries and professionals.
“Pre-COVID we were very niche and highly specialised. During the pandemic every academic institution in the word suddenly had to go online.”
Susan Hickey, co-founder adds: “A lot of the educational institutions we were working with were very traditional in their thinking. Tech adaption is usually a slow process. One of the good things of the pandemic was that tech adaption fast forwarded 10 years just in one year.”
The innovation project
Go Create Academy started helping one of the schools in the university working with younger people to deliver online exams. They needed a safe examination system for children to also include relevant safeguarding, which Peter and Susan couldn’t find on the market.
Go Create Academy then embarked on a research project to see whether technology like artificial intelligence (AI) can help develop a safe system to regulate exams, without unnecessary data obtaining and sharing.
Susan says: “We started developing a system, which we piloted in October 2020 when we run the first live exams with AI invigilation online. We found the AI more efficient, easily spotting if there was a cheating attempt.
“After a few more pilots, last year we realised that we have developed a reliable quality control system ticking many boxes for education institutions when running exams online. We are really proud of it.”
Peter continues: “Our work with the university empowered us to become in essence our own examination board, so we can respond to the needs of the market really quickly. We are releasing the world’s first beatboxing exams later this year and have created the world’s first beatboxing notation system.”
Peter says: “We’re working with the University of West London closely in many different ways, so it made sense for us to base ourselves at their Ealing campus.”
Susan adds: “Also, Ealing is famous for creativity, specifically our expertise creative media, so it makes it an ideal home for us.”
The grant funding will help Go Create Academy to further develop the artificial technology to mark exams. It’s currently not an end-to-end solution. They would like students anywhere in the world to be able to enrol, take their exam and receive digital certification. The funding will also be used for training in new skills areas.
Get business updates from the council to learn about any upcoming business support or grants.