Who are Chipside?
Chipside is a specialist software development company with headquarters in rural Wiltshire, providing products and services to around half of local and regional government authorities in the UK. Chipside delivers digital permitting and parking support to more than 170 local government authorities throughout the UK.
I started the business with just £10 and a ‘big idea’ to transform local government services. Since starting in 2003, the company has grown rapidly - expanding from just three people to a team of more than 50 people and earning a Queen's Award in 2019. Chipside’s digital portfolio is continually evolving and incorporates office parking management processing, MiPermit cashless parking and permitting, and Oppidatim data analytics to support the development of smarter and more connected cities.
What’s been your biggest achievement to date?
Chipside’s biggest achievement to date is saving local government £30 million in printing, postage and paper processing costs, as stage one of a wider digital transformation project. By adopting cashless parking and digitising permitting, local government teams have been able to save valuable resources and make their community fit for the future. It was an ambitious target when we set out, but we are now well into stage two, using big data to reshape longstanding services to meet the needs of local residents, businesses and visitors. Our Oppidatim platform collects large amounts of live data which enables local authorities to combine layers of data. For example, real-time traffic levels can be combined with on-street parking survey data to better understand the relationship between supply, demand and driver behaviour at different times of the day. This issue will become increasingly important as urbanisation continues and environmental concerns continue to drive new behaviours.
Also, winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation earlier this year was a fantastic achievement for our company and welcome recognition for the hard work and results I have seen from my team in recent years.
What is the biggest barrier you face as a tech SME?
The biggest barrier we face as an SME is unsurprisingly regulatory. The hours upon hours of administration and form-filling takes away valuable time planning for growth and expansion. Some fantastic work has been undertaken by the Government recently, shaping UK SME’s to compete globally through initiatives such as those set up by Department for International Trade, but there is more work to do. SMEs work hard, day in day out and even one extra hour on bureaucracy is one we need to look at carefully as a potential barrier to innovation.
What do the next 5 years look like?
We have set out a roadmap ‘Strategy 2025’. The biggest single priority is helping to protect the environment - less pollution, less congestion, less carbon fuels. By 2050, the United Nations predicts that around 68 per cent of the world’s population will live in urban areas, meaning traffic congestion will become even more critical. The nature of personal mobility may have to change, and Chipside will seek to provide adaptable technology, designed to cope with the rapid changes in vehicle use predicted.
What advice would you give to a start up in software development?
In 2003, we were a start-up and times were hard - signs of the future financial crash in 2008 were already there. Today we have challenges with the rapid change in consumer behaviour, technology being produced at an ever-increasing pace, as well as a fluid regulatory future post-Brexit. My advice to start-ups today would be to batten down, do what they do best and stay flexible enough to weather bumps in the road over the next few years. Opportunities are huge and with proper foundations, a start-up today can be nimble and take advantage of the power of decentralisation.