​Mike Isherwood, APD Communications’ managing director, has been appointed as chair of the Small Business Group of British APCO.

The group aims to provide a representative voice for small and micro-sized companies in the public safety sector.

Mr Isherwood said his primary objective in the role will be to provide support and exposure for emerging businesses to deliver innovative and cost-effective solutions to the industry.

He said: “The UK has a wealth of innovation, especially in the technology field, which too often remains untapped. There is a real opportunity through the Small Business Group to promote innovative businesses in the sector and help to give them a strong future.

“Small businesses can be more attentive, less expensive and more innovative than some of the big players in the industry, but it’s difficult for them to cut through and get noticed. That means the innovation they offer can be stifled

“We should do all we can to support these companies, no matter their size or experience, rather than just relying on established, large, mainstream suppliers. With the ongoing Brexit discussions we want to make sure public safety technology development is not restricted and companies have the opportunity to deliver great products and solutions wherever they are needed.

“We want to build awareness in the market of technology, process and service innovation in the public safety space.

“I’m excited to work with colleagues in British APCO to bring these smaller companies out of the shadows and into the sunshine. We want to give everyone a voice, not just the big players.”

Isherwood also said there is also an opportunity for collaboration between small businesses with niche products to form strategic alliances and provide end-to-end solutions to compete with bigger players.

British APCO also offers opportunities for businesses to raise awareness through its communications channels, including the BAPCO Journal magazine, and can spread the word through its presence at international events, opening up export potential.

A not-for-profit membership organisation, British APCO is the leading UK-based association for everybody who uses public safety communications and IT. The organisation is a collaborative community bringing together technology providers, end users, partners, manufacturers and resellers.

Isherwood added: “The public sector is continually being asked to do more with less and small businesses can play an important part in meeting that challenge.

“They can offer flexibility and new ways of working that drive down costs for clients, the majority of whom are public sector organisations. Ultimately that benefits taxpayers.”

Mr Isherwood takes over as Chair of the Small Business Group from consultant Jonathan Hamill, who co-founded the group but has now moved out of the public safety sector.

Ian Thompson, chief executive of British APCO, said: “With Jonathan stepping down, we were looking for someone with the knowledge, ability and, most importantly, the passion to take on the role and Mike has that in abundance.

“We also wanted a chair with a broad overview of the industry as a whole, but who still had a connection with small businesses in the sector.

“We’re keen to grow the membership of the group, but that’s not the primary aim. We want to see it deliver some real benefits for members – to help them to develop products and bring them to market or provide advice to avoid the inevitable mistakes during that process.

“We’re also keen to leverage the knowledge and experience of our larger commercial organisations to support the development of smaller companies.

“We’re really grateful to Mike and APD for taking the role on. Our appeal now is for smaller companies in the sector to join the group and become actively involved.

“Our message is ‘if you want to achieve something, tell us about it and we’ll put the power of our organisation and all of our corporate and individual members behind it’.”

APD supplies critical, life-saving software used by one in two UK police forces and other emergency services organisations across the UK. The company is also at the forefront of the development of the Emergency Services Network (ESN) a new, state-of-the-art communications network for the UK’s emergency services

APD recently became the first software supplier to be accredited by the LTE Network Approval Testing Service (NATS) for the Emergency Services Network (ESN). The NATS endorsement – a critical element of the requirements to operate on ESN –means that APD is positioned to support the blue light sector as it mitigates from the Airwave network to ESN.

Author: Sam Fenwick