A former IT specialist is digging into a new venture which could be a gamechanger in the construction industry.

Kevin Latimer and his business partner Claire Hollyman have launched Blyth-based Trench Network, a new communication service which they say has the potential to overhaul the way in which construction firms can access and use internet and phone communications on site.

Mr Latimer, who spent 15 years leading on IT and communications at Gateshead ’s Tolent Construction, designed and created a communications infrastructure tool which has been launched onto the market following assistance from Virgin StartUp and TEDCO Business Support.

The pair has invested £145,000 into the communications tool, including £25,000 from Virgin Startup.

Trench Networks can install the service from day one on any construction site for uninterrupted phone and internet communications.

The market potential for the Trench Networks service led to the business being awarded the Dynamite Growth Explosion Start Up of the Year 2016 trophy at the Dynamo North East IT and Technology awards recently.

Mr Latimer said: “We offer a fully integrated communications solution to developers and construction firms offering instant access to phone and internet networks to assist in project management, site survey and planning.

“There is no need to dig underground or install cables or use unreliable dongles as is the norm in setting up communications on site locations. The product is entirely cellular based as our ‘box’ essentially taps into all available cellular networks in an area to create one, strong signal at any time of the day.

“I worked for many years in construction so I have detailed knowledge of the difficulties in setting up communications and IT provision at the quite hostile environment of a construction site.

“Quite often you will have a lone steel site cabin in the middle of nowhere with no fixed lines available, or cellular networks with a very limited signal.

“However, site workers will expect communications to be available immediately.

“ We know the pitfalls of working on site, diggers can accidentally cut through lines, or power is often from a site generator that needs to be turned off at different times or even moved as the build progresses.

The firm’s founders worked with Bill Hartshorne at TEDCO Business Support from an early stage in the business development.

Mrs Hollyman said: “The value of working with TEDCO Business Support is that the Start and Grow programme is very much an investment readiness programme.

“They work across all elements of the business, including planning and strategy to get to a stage where investment can realistically be obtained.

“They know when a business is likely to be accepted and luckily for us, they are the exclusive delivery partner for Virgin StartUp in the North East so helped us successfully secure a £25,000 low-cost business loan through the scheme in 2015.”