Inside Business: The Real thing in creativity

Victoria Real, a television company based in Brighton, is testing a technique designed to make using the Internet to obtain goods and services much more straightforward.

A commercial roll-out is planned for the end of the year and Victoria Real says the trials indicate an enthusiastic response from customers. But, as a small firm with a turnover of about pounds 500,000, it would have struggled to get this far on its own. So being chosen as one of the winners of last year's Information Society Creativity Awards has helped in promoting the company and its ideas.

Victoria Real's RealTrade was one of 20 winners under a Department of Trade and Industry programme designed to help turn innovative ideas for digital products and applications into market successes.

This year the contest is running again, with pounds 750,000 in funding available for the chosen companies. But those interested in applying must move soon, because the deadline is 20 October. The Iscas (as they have become known) are open to "creative and content-focused companies" - typically organisations working in publishing, software, film, music and design - to help them succeed with ideas for CD-ROMs and other digital products. The 1997 awards, which can provide creative small and medium-sized businesses with matched funding of up to pounds 50,000 each, are sponsored by such organisations as Demon Internet, Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

To illustrate the opportunities available to companies that exploit the latest technologies, Victoria Real says it has formed relationships with BT and Cable & Wireless, as well as putting RealTrade forward for the first stage of selection for the Design Council's Millennium Products initiative.