The company behind a digital jukebox that is a feature of hundreds of public places across the UK is looking to expand as it prepares to release a new product.

Jaybox, based in Penrith, sold its first digital jukebox in 2006 and has since installed 800 units in premises across the UK producing up to 100 a year and employing six people.

Jamie Barnett, sales director for Jaybox, said any commercial premises needs a licence to play music and need to source that music from a registered supplier.

The touch screen jukebox allows people to choose music to listen to in public places such as pubs, cafes and restaurants.

The music is either accessed via its hard drive or an external server.

Jaybox has developed a vast library of licensed music which users can access and updates it constantly with new tracks.

Jamie said the device meant people could access a wide and constantly growing catalogue of music without having to go to the trouble and expense of licensing it themselves.

As well as manufacturing and selling the Jaybox, the firm also acts as a third party supplier of licensed music, which is played via other producers’ digital machines.

Jamie said the company had been taking part in the six-month Cumbria Innovations Platform Innovation Development Programme - which is delivered by Lancaster University Management School - to develop a new digital jukebox.

It hopes to take the new product to market as early as this year.

“Being quite a small company, the problem we had was getting bogged down instead of getting ideas into reality: it’s often difficult to generate the resource to push for innovation,” he said.

“So we were looking to speed up that process and actually follow ideas through.

“It was different to what I envisaged, but good different. The scope was wider.

“It included a lot about generating ideas, which we were pretty good on anyway.

“But then it went through how we could challenge those ideas and develop them into fuller, implementable ideas, which we definitely weren’t so good at.

“We’d been guilty of either shooting things down too soon or waiting until something was absolutely perfect.

“The programme showed us that your first product release doesn’t have to be perfectly polished, if it’s properly innovative.

“You can change it as it goes, and you can get the basis of a deal together and then polish it later.

“There aren’t many people that do what we do, but I found that a lot of the other businesses, while being totally different, still had a lot of the exact same problems.

“Learning about their slant on business – as well as learning common techniques for pushing through innovation – was the tip of the iceberg, and it’s really spurred me on to learn more.”

He is also exploring closer links with other companies, both fellow entrepreneurs from the IDP and third parties.

“Historically, we were all about non-disclosure agreements and keeping intellectual property firmly to ourselves,” said Jamie.

“Whereas if you share your ideas and collaborate with other companies, often you can develop things that you never would have on your own. The programme opened our minds to that.

“Overall, it was very motivating.

“It gave us the tools and techniques to look at what we were doing and to change tack, quite considerably. It helped us see how we needed a new product – or products – and we needed to push for that.

“It also changed our view on what the market wanted, and the kind of company we’d be, moving forward.”

Angela Moore, the programme manager for the Cumbria IDP at LUMS, sees Jaybox as an example of the positive outcomes that can be achieved from the programme.

She says: “Our six-month programme enables Cumbrian SMEs to shape and develop their businesses to embrace innovation. It gives them the opportunity to link up with other businesses and explore new ideas for product and service development.”

As a direct result of his involvement on this programme, Jamie has started an apprenticeship degree course with the University of Cumbria, LUMS’s partners in the wider Cumbria Innovations Platform.