Hopes are high that a visit to Staffordshire by South Korean regional government officials could spark longer term business relationships with both hosts Enlighten and the wider business and education sectors.
Sara Williams, Chief Executive of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce and David Frost, Chair of Stoke-on-Trent Local Enterprise, were among Staffordshire business leaders who held talks with regional government leaders from Gyeonggi Province and the city of Pyeongtaek.
Both declared the talks as “highly positive” and were hopeful that a second visit could be arranged in autumn 2019.
“We are delighted that Enlighten involved the Chambers in the visit and it gave us a golden opportunity to sell Staffordshire as a great place to do business,” said Sara Williams. “We must now work to keep the dialogue open as we talked to them about returning to see even more about what’s on offer.
“Staffordshire Chambers have strong links with Enlighten, having recognised their great potential from the company’s inception in 2017 It is clear that Enlighten has built very positive relationships in South Korea and we will support them every step along the way as they work to take their pioneering mental health apps to Gyeonggi Province.”
Enlighten, from Tamworth, are at the forefront of developing “tech for good” in the education and health sectors. The company has worked in the UK to develop mental health resources for colleges and universities and the military.
The South Korean link would see Enlighten work with that country’s first suicide prevention centre and wider health bodies, potentially sparking extraordinary growth for the small Enlighten team.
Negotiations have begun which, if successful, would see Enlighten gain access to millions of pounds of European funding and open a second office in South Korea.
Suzanne Edwards, Enlighten’s Head of Education, said: “We were proud and excited to welcome the South Korean delegation to the area. Talks about supporting their mental health services are progressing well and we established plans to move them forward ahead of hosting a further visit.
“We put on a full programme of events over more than three days, involving visits to meet business leaders and see technology in action in Tamworth, Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham. Despite being an extremely technologically advanced country, South Korea has not used these advantages to support mental health services and this led to them being interested in what Enlighten is offering.
“Our Augmented Reality mental health awareness raising resources, created in partnership with charity Rethink Mental Illness, has seen positive results, when used in colleges and in the armed forces, with soldiers suffering PTSD. By placing a smart phone over a poster, people can gain access to advice and information signposting them on ways to seek help.
“This is seen as ideal for use in South Korea where 5G connectivity is common and smart phone usage is extremely high.”
Links were built in Gyeonggi Province when Enlighten were advised by Staffordshire Chamber based Department of International Trade officials to apply to join a trade mission.
Steve Wileman, Enlighten’s Head of Technology and Development said: “Having met officials from South Korea in their country, it was fantastic to be asked to host them here. They were keen to progress our partnership talks but also showed interest in what other potential business and educational links can be established. Gyeonggi Province and the city of Pyeongtaek is home to household names such as Samsung and Hyundai.”