3DNovations | CommonwealthFirst | World Champion in SME Support

3DNovations – Second Cohort Export Champion


Award winning, innovative 3D virtual world and cloud solutions

Location: London
Company website: www.3dnovations.co.uk
Sectors: Design, Education, Health & Technology

3Dnovations is social firm leading industry by example by using state of the art 3D virtual reality and cloud technologies to unlock the talents and potential of people with autism disabilities and complex needs – who make up 80% of its highly creative and technically skilled team. By using Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) methodologies, 3Dnovations has designed an award winning range of virtual reality cloud solutions for and with people with autism, disabilities and complex needs.

These solutions enable public services and organisations to offer an engaging 3D cloud alternative to traditional delivery methods which better meet the needs of those with such disabilities.

Winner of the CBI / Nominet Trust Most Innovative Internet Business 2012, the company is a “thought leader” for its ground breaking work.  Its customers and partners include the NHS, Department of Health, Department of Education, Department for Work and Pensions, JobCentre Plus, SmartLab at University College Dublin as well as numerous charities. In 2015 it was selected as a BBC “Ones to Watch” and in December 2016 was shortlisted for the inaugural EU Foundations Award for RRI. At BETT 2017, 3DNovations’ edtech solutions were highlighted as exemplars and showcased as best practice.

CommonwealthFirst looks forward to supporting this hugely progressive company. Taking its ability to increase opportunity and employment prospects for autistic people around the world.


Apply now to become an Export Champion.

How did you hear about the CWF programme and what made you apply?
I applied to join the first cohort as we have always seen the commonwealth as a key market for our innovative products and services. When I got the email about the opportunity to apply to join the second cohort, I reapplied because of the growing awareness and interest in our innovative and socially responsible 3D virtual reality cloud solutions from commonwealth countries thanks recent awards we have won and events we have participated in.

How did the idea for your business come about?
I have personal experience of the barriers people with autism, disabilities and complex needs face in achieving life goals and economic potential and identified an opportunity to use 3D virtual reality and cloud technologies as an accessible platform to reduce and remove these and create new ways of working and learning that are better for everyone

What difficulties have you encountered setting up your business?
The innovative nature of what we do and how we do made it difficult to get the support we needed when we needed it. Not long after setting up the business, we had to survive the economic down turn but our innovative business model and ways of working made as agile enough to adapt to this and to pursue growth in spite of this and other more recent challenges like Brexit.

What are the biggest trade and export challenges you face?
Lack of understanding of what we do and why we do it from both economic and social perspectives, difficulties accessing finance and investment on terms that are consistent with our business values and social purpose, international trade barriers including lack of local market knowledge and contacts.

What are the most crucial things you have done to grow and develop your business?
Seek out and invest in people with hidden talents and potential in our communities, invest in R&D and inclusive innovation to create ground breaking products and services, get out there and show how these can transform public services, help save money / deliver better outcomes and efficiencies and plan from the outset to export by promoting our innovations internationally.

What are you hoping to get out of the CWF programme?
Awareness of our innovations and brand, access to networks, market knowledge and routes to market, an opportunity to inspire other SMEs to innovate and export to the commonwealth in a socially responsible way.

What is a typical working day for you?
6-7:30am Family time
7:30-12 noon Meeting with the team/international partners using avatars via our 3D VR office
1-6pm Travel to external meetings and presentations with partners to showcase our solutions
6-9pm Family time
9-11pm Occasional meetings with the team/international partners using avatars via our 3D VR office

Where would you like your business to be in 5 years time?
We plan to help 11 year old Hamish Finalyson in Australia achieve his Autism and Assistive Tech Moonshot by opening 3DNovations Hubs in 20 countries outside the UK including commonwealth, EU and China.

We will have established companies in the Caribbean, Africa, Middle east and China and reseller partnerships with organisations elsewhere who are committed to our social values and purpose.

We will have achieve our targets for export sales and increased access to vocational training and employment outcomes for people with autism, disabilities and complex needs.

What advice would you give to anybody looking to set up an SME?
Make sure your team share your vision, keep your cost base low and work SMART using technology and look after yourself / each other so you can be resilient, innovative, adaptable and enjoy a good work life balance.

Why is virtual reality such an effective way of delivering education and training?
See this video: http://efarri.eu/wp-content/uploads/interviews/3Dnovations%20Nicola%20Herbinson.mp4

How do you measure 3DNovations impact (in general and/or) against other more traditional methods of education and training?
Cost savings, participation/progression and employment outcomes.


This interview was conducted as part of the CommonwealthFirst Export Champion interview series. Apply now to become an Export Champion.