One of our Pioneer 10 competitors, Heritage Archaeology, has now moved into the centre, and is looking to grow after what has been a successful first year in business.

Director Helena Kelly set the company up in April 2018, after many years in the industry working for a multi-disciplinary agency. After a few months as a virtual customer of the centre, the time was right to move in full-time.

“I thought, why not give it a go doing it for myself?” says Helena. “So I set up on my own and the first thing I did was get a virtual office here at HIC. I wanted to have the address and access to the facilities because they’re marvellous.”

The business is a historic and environmental consultancy, which provides a great variety of work. “It’s all in and around the planning process,” says Helena. “It can be anything from the initial concept of a site to when you’ve got it and you want to start building. And it’s anything to do with the historic environment: listed buildings; historic areas; battlefield sites; gardens; the whole gamut of things that have a bit of history.”

Clients range from national house builders looking at building large housing estates who need a feasibility study to make sure there’s nothing archaeological on the site that will stop the process, to people looking to convert listed buildings needing a heritage statement, and large organisations looking at major projects.

With the business really taking off, Helena was joined by husband Joe Pole in October and the company went limited. “We outgrew the home office and needed some proper space because the next stage is going to be bringing in someone else,” says Helena.

The company also took part in this year’s Pioneer 10 programme. “That was a big help in growing the business,” says Joe. “We used all the great workshops offered and had really good support from Kate Jackson on business development.”

Helena first came across HIC while looking for premises to set up offices for her previous company. “I joined them with the brief to set up a heritage service and a Midlands multi-disciplinary offer,” she explains. Helena loved HIC, so when it came time to find an office of her own, there was only one place she wanted to be. “We didn’t look anywhere else.”

The duo particularly like the communal atmosphere of the centre. “It’s great to feel like you’re part of the professional community,” says Helena. “When you’re working out of your back bedroom, you’re a little bit detached from the business side of it.”

The HIC team also go a long way to make it a great place to be, according to Joe: “They’re a really good team – friendly and approachable. Our business at the moment is just the two of us, so the help we get from Liza in meeting people around the centre is excellent. It’s the small things as well, like someone to answer the phone and deal with mail when you’re out. The other good thing is that you have a lot of businesses here you can also use if you need something.”

“And the friendliness is so good for you personally,” says Helena. “It’s just nice that somebody says hello! You can wander into the café and have a coffee and it’s great, it gives you a bit of contact. It’s such a good network because it’s really supportive.”

As for the business, things are going brilliantly. “Now we’ve reached a tipping point where I can only just manage the workload we have,” Helena says. “We want to free ourselves up a bit and have the ability to grow more, so we need to get someone in to help and support us. Now we’re in, we can advertise for someone knowing we have an office for them to work out of.”

Helena and Joe will be advertising for someone to join the team very soon and are looking at building the business even further, and HIC will be a big part of that. “We love it here and we’re really excited about moving in,” concludes Helena.

Harborough Innovation Centre is owned and supported by Harborough District Council (HDC). As the building owner HDC also funds the Centre’s business support provision, providing the basis for expert business advice, mentoring and workshops.