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British-German cooperation brings about digital field guides

August 2011

TreeID screenshot

Nature field guides have been published in book form for years, but who wants to lug around all that weight on a long trek? Thanks to the collaboration of two micro-companies that the Enterprise Europe Network brought together, there is now a new range of ecology-based applications for smartphones and tablet computers. One of the applications has become an iTunes hit.

The innovation is the brainchild of Bath-based Mark Haley, a British software developer with an environmental biology degree. His company Isoperla teamed up with Sunbird TV, a three-person science-focused media consultancy based in Wülfrath, Germany, to develop applications serving as digital field guides.

Their first project, TreeID, helps users identify species by asking questions and then provides a list of ranked options. The application reached number three in the iTunes Education chart.

To find specialised content providers for his company, Mark Haley turned to the Enterprise Europe Network contact point in Bristol. The network helps small business to make the most of the European marketplace. "We had developed an interesting product," says Haley, "but needed help taking it to the next level."

The Network team entered the request into the technology transfer database, one of the tools at its disposal to help businesses grow internationally.

In Germany, Sabrina Wodrich from the North Rhine-Westphalia Network partner ZENIT flagged the entry to Sunbird TV. "I know the company inside out and immediately passed along the information," she explains.

The companies agreed to join forces to develop the series of applications, and success was quick to follow. "We look forward to working with our new business partner and with the Network for many years," says Sunbird co-founder Georg Pohland.

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