Sharp green screen

RGF unlocks green screen deal

AppLearn, an existing tenant at The Sharp Project, Manchester's digital content production complex, has expanded capacity by taking a long lease on half the green screen studios in the new purpose-built suite.

The expansion is partly funded by a loan from the Regional Growth Fund and AppLearn expects to create up to 150 jobs by 2017.

AppLearn was founded in May 2011 and moved into The Sharp Project in February 2012. The company streams online training courses and tutorials to staff and students around the world on behalf of major employers. In addition to leasing the studios, AppLearn is doubling the size of its office accommodation at The Sharp Project, occupying a total of 2, 690 sq ft.

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The Manchester company exports 97% of its services overseas and has secured major international clients across a range of sectors including telecommunication companies in Canada and the UK; Vancouver based GoldCorp, one of the world's largest producers of gold; Hudbay Minerals in Canada; UK based M&W, a global engineering and construction company; Canadian train and aircraft manufacturer Bombardier; Ahlstrom, a Finnish high performance materials company and some of the world's top hotel groups including Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group in Hong Kong, Intercontinental Hotel Group and Landmark Hotel Group.

The company, which offers a unique software training and communications solution, provides its services to over one million people in 42 countries in 14 languages by producing and hosting bespoke on-line streaming tutorials. Currently employing 15 people, the studios provide the opportunity to increase the size of the workforce ten-fold, employing 150 people over the next four years.

Mark Barlow, founder and chief executive of AppLearn, said: "We stream training and communication tutorials to employees and managers situated anywhere around the world, in any language and to any device. We then provide analytical feedback which gives our clients a crucial insight into how their entire workforce is engaging with their talent and performance programmes. Our service is particularly attractive to global companies that have large numbers of employees, across a number of countries, and need to communicate the same messages and deliver consistent training quickly and cheaply in multiple languages. A facility like this at The Sharp Project is essential to allow us to expand so we can meet demand. These studios, the only dedicated fully sound-proofed green screen suite in the UK, will enable us to create training videos on an industrial scale. If we use the studios on a five-day week, eight-hour day basis, we will be able to create 50,000 training tutorials a year. If this turns into a 24/7 operation then the capacity could double.

"We were the first company in the world to use streaming videos to train people and I believe within the next 5-10 years, most training will be done this way. We need to remain at the forefront of this sector. Our business couldn't have expanded the way it has without being based at The Sharp Project. This place is a crucial part of our story and will continue to be so. It's a remarkable place where the public sector have lent a hand to give companies like us a leg up but done it in a very subtle way so not to smother our entrepreneurial and creative spirit. We'd like to thank The Sharp Project team and the city council for helping us access a Regional Growth Fund loan to help finance the expansion of our business."

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