Case study

Supporting a technology company in moving to the next level

In 2018, Kakou Technologies were the first business to base themselves within the University’s Innovation Centre and benefit from all the resources the centre provides. Since then, the organisation has gone from strength to strength, creating a real impact within the local community.

Kakou Technologies is a profit-for-purpose engineering company, run by husband-and-wife team Ann Fomukong-Boden and Mark Boden. The organisation creates and manufactures tech products that support people with disabilities in accessing mainstream music and creative arts. Kakou Technologies is also a full product design and Research & Development engineering consultancy.

Growing the business with support from the University

The company has been based at the University’s Innovation Centre since 2018. The centre allows small businesses to incubate new ideas, increase their growth, and develop new products by creating a stimulating environment for innovation, learning and problem-solving. A workshop facility offers support for design prototyping and materials analysis and testing, with a focus on sustainability.

Managing Director Ann said: “Our aim at Kakou is to be more efficient, low-energy and sustainable, using recyclable materials wherever possible. We have been able to link in with research teams from the University’s Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering to analyse the environmental impact of our products and investigate working with new materials.

“As a business we believe in collaboration, so were impressed by the opportunity the Innovation Centre offers to be part of a like-minded community. We were delighted with the support provided and received advice on funding and networking opportunities, which have really helped our business move to the next level.”

A picture of a lady and a man smiling

We were delighted with the support provided and received advice on funding and networking opportunities, which have really helped our business move to the next level.

Ann Fomukong-Boden
Co-Founder and Director, Kakou Technologies

Developing projects for the local community in challenging times

The Hawaiian word ‘Kakou’ signifies inclusiveness, meaning ‘all of us’ and ‘we are in this together’; values which are at the heart of all the services provided by Kakou Technologies. The outbreak of Covid-19 has proven the importance of community and inclusion more than ever before. Having recognised the need for connection, Kakou Technologies developed a new hybrid of activities it calls Social Fuse. The idea is to create partnerships, develop skills, and educate people about the contribution creative sciences make to their everyday lives.

The projects the team have developed are creating a real impact. Initiatives have been wide ranging, supporting a variety of different needs, such as:

The Innovation Centre is part of the University of Derby’s wider commitment to working collaboratively with businesses, sharing expertise whilst keeping innovation and sustainability in mind. It is one of three tailored business support hubs which match small businesses with opportunities to access space, expertise, advice, funding, facilities, and talent to help them grow. New businesses can pay stepped rental charges and get a range of business support services to set them on their way.

The centre enables organisations to expand in other ways too as Laura Williams, Commercial Business Service Manager explains. “Businesses within the Innovation Centre often take the opportunity to create new networks and collaborate with other members of the facility. Many have found this to be invaluable, especially during the early stages of growing their company. Having like-minded people to offer a fresh perspective or collaborate with on new initiatives opens the door to a wealth of possibilities.”

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