Doncaster-based technology company honoured with the first ever King’s Award for Innovation

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A Doncaster-based technology company, which became an unsung hero of the Covid-19 pandemic, has been honoured with the first ever King’s Award for Innovation.

Ascendant Solutions is one of 148 companies across the UK to be recognised with a King’s Award for Enterprise, with only 47 King’s Award for Innovation being awarded.

Specialising in developing cloud-based data management systems to reduce the administrative burden faced by local authorities, Ascendant has enjoyed a significant period of growth, after playing a critical role in the delivery of Covid-19 grants to small businesses at the height of the pandemic.

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When the UK Government announced plans to distribute grant funding to businesses as Britain entered into its first national lockdown, Ascendant Solutions set itself the challenge of bringing a new product to market to support the efforts of local authorities.

The Ascdendant teamThe Ascdendant team
The Ascdendant team

The company embarked upon a marathon effort that would see it devise, build, test and bring to market a piece of software capable of automating the rigorous checks needed to identify incorrect and fraudulent applications, a feat it achieved within just 17 days.

Quickly adopted by four local authorities, the company’s Apply4.Online® system automatically cross-checked and analysed a number of data sources, enabling the validity of a grant application to be assessed automatically.

The results proved to be immediate, helping local authorities to save up to 70 per cent of the time spent processing applications and achieving an error rate of just 0.8 per cent, less than a tenth of the national average.

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Crucially, the software prevented over £400 million pounds worth of ineligible applications from being processed.

Since pioneering the software, Ascendant Solutions has successfully rolled out its Apply4.Online® technology to a wide range of other schemes administered by local authorities, with the software being used by nearly a third of Councils operating in England to deliver a wide range of schemes, from energy relief subsidies to supporting sponsor families under the Homes for Ukraine initiative.

Darren Kelk, Managing Director, Ascendant Solutions, said: “The success we’ve achieved is a real David vs Goliath story and illustrates the vital role small businesses can play when it comes to bringing innovative solutions to market.

"The King’s Award for Innovation is one of the highest accolades any business can receive, and the success we’ve achieved illustrates the vital role small businesses like Ascendant Solutions Ltd has within this market.

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“The challenge facing many organisations is whether the data they hold on file is accurate and up to date. When the records held by local authorities are compared with those held by financial institutions, for example, we recognised that many local authorities lag behind. We realised that local authorities couldn’t simply rely upon the data they held about a particular business, but when it came to delivering grant support, it was imperative that other checks were undertaken.

“At the height of the pandemic, local authorities were under considerable pressure from Government to distribute the Covid-19 grants as quickly as possible; however, there clearly needed to be controls put in place. Within the first week of the system going live, our Apply4.Online® software helped four employees, working across two local authorities, to successfully pay 2,462 grants. The councils estimated that to achieve a similar result using manual checks would have required 20 employees to deliver a similar number.”

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