A successful North East translation service is putting its language skills to wider use with the help a five-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported By The European Regional Development Fund.

Papillon Translations has spent over four years developing an easy-to-use app that can provide commentary in a range of languages in locations such as museums and other tourist destinations.

The Newcastle-headquartered firm has now worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to secure a £50,000 investment to increase its marketing activity and help bring the new system fully to market.

The app is already being used successfully in the James Herriot Museum in Thirsk and at the York Museums Trust’s Bedern Hall site, and discussions are now being planned with venues right around the UK.

The app uses a QR code that users can scan to bring up the relevant commentary in the language of their choice, but also allows images to be scanned instead, so that exhibits don’t need to have any markers placed on or around them if customers don’t want to do so.

As well as written descriptions, the app also provides an audio option, with information recorded by the translators themselves to ensure accuracy.

Papillon Translations was founded five years ago by former pilot Steve Kent, who spotted a gap in the market when his French wife Sandra was carrying out some translation work.

It now has 15,000 translators on its books who work in 172 different languages, and it can offer over 250 different language pairings

All its work is carried out by humans, most of whom are based in the countries where their respective languages are spoken, and work is allocated, undertaken, checked and localised through a secure online environment.

Papillon already works with a wide range of well-known businesses and organisations, including the BBC and NHS, and was called in by NewcastleGateshead Initiative to work on the World Transplant Games that were recently held in the North East.

Craig Horsfall, associate partner in Haines Watts Chartered Accountants’ Newcastle office, worked with the Papillon management team through the investment process.

Steve Kent, managing director at Papillon Translations, says: “We’ve spent a lot of time ensuring that the app is fully fit for purpose and now have a fantastic product that will make a real difference to the user experiences that museums and other such venues can offer their visitors.

“There’s nothing like this system on the market at the moment and the feedback we’re getting on how well-received it has been at the locations in which it’s currently being used is extremely encouraging.

“Our aim now is to maximise our marketing activity, increase the number of locations in which the app is being used and build the widest-possible practical understanding of what it can offer.

“Being able to discuss our business plan and investment needs in person with the NEL team was a big plus for us and made negotiating the investment process easy for us.”

Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £50,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.

It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.

Mike Guellard, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “The Papillon team has created a user friendly and flexible system that has huge potential for adoption by a wide range of venues and will significantly enhance the experience that patrons get out of their visits.”

Craig Horsfall at Haines Watts says: “This is an exciting time for Papillion given the launch of this innovative new app. It’s been a pleasure working with the management team throughout the investment process and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for the business.”

The overarching £120m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.

NEL Fund Managers is actively looking for potential investees from Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland to put their investment ideas forward.

For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.