Internet Works - June 2000


The ISI/Interforum E-Commerce Awards for 2000 were launched on 25th January by the e-commerce minister Patricia Hewitt with a total of £130,000 prize money on offer. Internet.Works will be following the competition all the way through to its conclusion in June.

Sponsored by BT and NatWest, the awards have been set up to recognise and reward best practice in the use of electronic business.

The scheme is open to any UK company with fewer than 250 employees and closing date for entries is 14 April 2000. There will be 11 regional heats, followed by a national final. The overall winner of the national final will then recieve a prize of £30,000. Heat winners will get £5,000 and runners-up £2,000 and £1,000.

The awards are being run jointly by DTI-led Information Society Initiative (ISI), which promotes the use of information and communication technologies to small companies, and by InterForum, a not-for-profit campaign group of companies set up to help SMEs trade electronically.

Last year's winners for the North East Region:

Leeds firm Card Corporation was the North East winner of the 1999 Awards. The company has reached new markets and transformed the face of its business by establishing an Internet solution for short run business card printing. The company Web site, set up in April 1998 for trade customers and accessible to the public since May last year, has opened the doors to DIY print design, whereby customers can create and order their own business cards and stationery online and receive the products the next day. Enquiries have already come from Norway, Australia, Egypt and Malaysia.

The firm was established in 1996 by Ivor Jacobs. With experience in both software development and the printing industry he gambled on leaving his job to start the project. Card Corporation's sister company Grasmere Digital Imaging handles print production.

On the site (, customers can interactively typeset and order business cards electronically, adhering to corporate standards and specifications where necessary. The company plans to licence the system internationally and offer a virtual printing service throughout the world.

Ivor Jacobs explains: "Our company target is to be able to supply and take orders in 50 countries within a year. With the number of hits and orders already escalating rapidly, I have no doubt that it is a realistic aim. The interactive Web site has made it possible for us to bring seamless automation to the printing of short run orders. We are putting far more emphasis on the exact needs of the customer so that they are now in charge. The system removes the hassle associated in the past with small orders and creates clarity and efficiency. I think the Internet is the natural environment for cost effective print shops of the future."

Card Corporation has invested its prize money in further development of the Web site. Plans for the future include the use of server-based and digital print technology to offer customers an increasing range of interactive printed products - any printed item produced singly or in short runs will be possible. Smaller business cards, Tshirts and rubber stamps will be the first to be added to the product range. The company will also be looking at technologies that will incorporate all sorts of photographs and images into the interactive page.

Ivor Jacobs continues: "I very much believe that the market leads technology and that the Internet is a facilitator of a more efficient and enjoyable way of working. There are huge benefits to be found in investing in a Web site - it can do so much for business. E-commerce will allow integration and flexibility in a manner not possible through conventional means. There will also be further opportunities to enter the short to medium run markets as printing processes themselves become more digitally based. In fact, the sky's the limit."


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