e4f had been operating a manual, paper-based application process for its Business Incubation Programme but growing interest meant the move to paperless was imperative.
e4f is an incubator programme dedicated to supporting the growth of technology companies in the West Midlands region of the UK. Based at the Innovation Birmingham Campus, e4f helps start-ups that use technology in innovative ways to launch, develop and grow their business.
Originally, e4f had a paper-based application process. The team forming the process was made up of internal and external members, lots of paperwork and endless email trails.
It had become laborious, time consuming and difficult for internal team members to keep up with the paperwork involved. Applications were either dropped off at the Reception, came in by post or via email. These were then all handled as print outs, before a selection of applicants were short listed, scanned and emailed back to reviewers.
Following email trails between the team members and applicants was also a struggle. In addition, fielding applicant follow up emails and calls became increasingly tough. With increasing interest from applicants, the amount of calls received prior and during the process doubled.
External team members provided reviews and feedback on applications via further email threads. This added to the load in terms of communication to chase and follow up on. There was also no way of ensuring that external reviewers were performing upto the standards and timescales expected.
HEIapply provides the European Funded organisation with an ongoing portal for capturing, managing and processing applications to their incubation programme. Start-up businesses go onto the website, apply for a place and their application is reviewed by their soon to-be mentors. Places are offered on merit and quality of business idea, all actionable from within the platform
Despite the option to continue as they were, e4f decided to consider HEIapply to allow their team the luxury of a complete online application process. Everyone was given the ability to login, see live timeline action for each applicant and leave their feedback. Applicants also had their own login portals to register, begin and submit an application. Being able to see the status and progress of their application in real time was a strategically developed feature to prevent the influx of follow up calls.