Describe your business in no more than 100 words
Equestrian sports performance monitoring. The competitive performance of the horse depends on his athletic ability and fitness but also the degree to which he is willing to follow the commands of his rider. Riders may already use personal fitness monitors but Avansce is providing tools for monitoring the effectiveness of the horse and rider partnership – how well these two work together. With Avansce technology the rider can detect inconsistencies in his communication with the horse, measure the degree of acceptance of his commands by the horse and discover whether his horse is fit for work or needs rest.
What prompted you to enter the innovation showcase?
Avansce has a working prototype which it has been developing over the summer and is ready to show it to potential investors and/or manufacturing and business partners. Avansce is an ambitious IP-owning company borne out of one of the North East’s most successful exporters and innovators of equestrian sports hardware, Neue Schule Ltd., based in Stokesley. Collaborating with academics at Durham University to develop the idea, Avansce is a great example of how local businesses and regional knowledge bases can help make the “Northern Powerhouse” concept a reality.
Describe the innovation that you’ve entered the showcase with. (This can be taken from your showcase application)
If a rider and horse pair are working together well there will be a steady rhythmical contact through the reins and we quantify and interpret the quality of that rhythmical contact. Up to now there has been nothing other than traditional trainer-led oral feedback to a rider on their performance. Riders will at last have their own reliable way of measuring performance. We will demonstrate a prototype mobile application, an early version of an on-line cloud-based user dashboard system, as well as force sensors embedded in a pair of reins that connect with a wireless transceiver.
How would you describe that innovation to your grandparents?
How much do judges of dressage competitions know about the hidden hand movements between the horse and rider that may be used to create that great impression? Maybe judges can agree that a horse and rider looks good, but at what cost to the horse? How much invisible fightingbetween the horse and rider has been used to create the look? If the new system from Avansce could measure the degree of such fighting, maybe judges could agree to use that to re-order the leader-boards of horses and riders and create an incentive for more considered training.
What are the best and worst parts of trying to be innovative in your business?
The best parts are in seeing some idea on paper or in your head be made into something by people who have the skills to do it – and seeing their enthusiasm for what they’ve done. The worst parts are the frustrations of having to convey your vision in detail when you haven’t fully though it out yourself – although, this sometimes can be one of the best parts.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
Getting electronics and software produced in the UK is the easy bit – in fact we have an unwritten ambition to create the whole product using partners based north of the M62 - we are (largely) achieving that. Sadly, the skills and ambition we need from what remains of the UK’s formerly dominant saddlery industry are now almost impossible to find – we are having to revive these ourselves even if only in some small way.
Where do you get support and advice to help you run your business?
Being part of the Neue Schule group of companies gives Avansce a ready-made business support system.
What would being chosen for the innovation showcase mean to you?
A great opportunity once again to think about what it is we are doing, realising again what a major breakthrough in equestrian sports monitoring we are bringing to life and offering it as an example of innovative thinking grown from our region’s business and academic resources.
Where do you see your company in five years’ time?
North East England (of course!) – But, seen as a trusted provider of reliable, easy to use, equestrian sports performance monitoring systems. Having an influence within the governing bodies of the equestrian sports offering systems that enhance the agreed standards of training, for dressage in particular, whilst enhancing the spectator experience through web-broadcast performance scores.
What would you tell businesses who are hoping to be more innovative?
Take a break and don’t think about your everyday business. Ask what it is that you could be great at even if it’s not what you usually do. After a few crazy ideas one may actually be something that could have some legs.