Food and Business

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The Learning Machine Ltd

Business address: 

LMAT building, 257a High Road,

Loughton, Essex, IG10 1AD

United Kingdom

Telephone:  +44 (0)1827 305940

Legal Status of business: Limited Company
Type of business: Awarding Body

Proposal: To offer: Food Safety in Catering Level 2 Award and Enterprise and Small Business Management Level 1 and Level 2 Awards.

Start date: 1 October 2011 or as soon as possible thereafter

The Mission Statement: 
We have a very clear and precise mission, to provide customers with the highest degree of service possible reducing the cost of accredited qualifications and supporting technologies.

These plans support our intention to establish ourselves as an Awarding Organisation of choice in offering Food Safety in Catering Level 2 Award and new qualifications in Enterprise and Small Business Management. The intention is to start with the existing customer base and to expand these qualifications nationally and internationally.


Role, key skills and relevant experience of: Mr Ian Lynch
Mr Ian Lynch is the founder and owner of The Learning Machine Limited. He has extensive experience of more than 30 years working in the education field. He holds a Masters Degree in Management.
Ian Lynch was a member of the senior management team that set up the first City Technology College and was then Curriculum Director for mathematics and science at what is now the SSAT.
He has experience leading school inspection teams as an OFSTED Registered Inspector and founded the professional association for Registered Inspectors in Schools. He has set up several businesses winning a DTi smart Award for software innovation, and the Midlands Region Small Business of the Year Award. As the former education lead for the community he has strong roots in FOSS and is currently managing two EU Transfer of Innovation projects in the EU Life Long Learning programme and contributing to a third. He is currently CEO of The Learning Machine Ltd a company regulated by Ofqual and endorsed by e-skills.
Ian Lynch has already develop the Small Business Enterprise qualifications in consultation with the Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative (SFEDI). The only work required is to enter the units and rules of combination on the RITS system and in the TLM on-line markbook.

Other Employees and Consultants involved in these qualifications
One additional part-time employee will be engaged in the delivery of these new qualifications. These details and the total annual employment costs in relation to the new qualifications are shown below:

Qualifications and experience summary
Role, key skills and relevant experience of: Mr Adil Mehmood B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc.(Hons), PgD. UK
Senior Consultant / Trainer
Qualifications and experience summary

  • PgD – Occupational Health, Safety and Environment, England
  • PgD – Food Quality Management and Marketing. England
  • M.Sc (Hons) Agriculture Economics
  • B.Sc. (Hons) – Animal Husbandry
  • Third Party Auditor to the Global Standard for Food Safety (British Retail Consortium)
  • Professional Trainer - (CIEH-Chartered Institute of Environmental Health) England.
  • Practical Fire Risk Assessment – West Midland Fire Service Academy. England
  • NEBOSH - Occupational Health and Safety. England
  • Assessor – (EDI - Education Development International). England
  • Member of IOSH – Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. England

Mr. Mehmood has worked in different positions in the areas such as Production, Management, Research, Sales and Education in the United Kingdom and abroad. He has worked as an Environmental Health Auditor and trainer for international hotels in various countries. He has worked as a Consultant for CIEH (Chartered Institute of Environmental Health-UK) and critically reviewed Food Safety and Health and Safety examination papers. He has also worked as a Head of Science in a Secondary School in the England. He has provided Food Safety, Hazard Analysis, (HACCP), Health and Safety, Environmental Management Training and consultancy to some of the smallest and largest businesses in the UK and abroad in English, Urdu, Punjabi, and other languages.

Position:   Consultant for devising exam papers and assessing of the Food Safety in Catering Level 2 Award
Annual costs:  £4500.00

Skills and services which will be bought in during the first year
The estimate for this work is an initial fee of £1500.00 and then an on-going fee of £250.00 per month, with flexible payment depending on results.
The annual costs of skills/ services bought in is estimated to be £4500.00.

Operating practices of the business, responsibilities of staff and contingency plans
Ian lynch will oversee the development and implementation of these new qualifications. Existing staff will also assist. We will recruit more staff as the need arises.

Steve Elwell the Marketing Director will be responsible for marketing the qualifications to our existing and new clientele alongside other qualifications. Our partners Uniqual will develop markets beyond this on a profit sharing basis removing commercial risk.


Details of the products and services offered

The unique selling point and an explanation of the pricing policy are set out below:

The product or service
The business will be offering:
Food Safety in Catering Level 2 Award
Small Business Enterprise at Levels 1 and 2

The Unique Selling Point (USP)
The assessment model is based on the INGOT cloud based system supported by Open source software. This not only reduces costs but makes assessment more convenient for customers. Assessors can manage the input of grades from any computer device with a standards compliant web browser including Smartphone technology. These systems are the subject of three transfer of innovation projects co-funded by the EU lifelong learning programme.
Assessors will be trained within each centre to assess and mark the examinations using an online mark book or alternatively hard copy examination papers and then they will be externally verified.
Assessment will be on demand and certificates will be issued as soon as authorised after review of moderation evidence. TLM has no additional charges for authenticating certificates and therefore this makes more robust security as checking is more likely to take place.

Based on the extensive experience in education and training, coupled with market research of competitor prices and discussions with potential customers, the price has been fixed to be competitive while providing sufficient income to support a good quality of service and further development of new qualifications with low financial risk. The use of the on-line mark book and provision of certificates and their authentication directly from the web site provides improvements in efficiency and convenience to the customer thus supporting better value for money.


Research carried out
Market research for the project has been carried out by:

  • Reading trade journals
  • Using the internet
  • Speaking to training providers
  • Establishing organisations where employees need the qualification to operate
  • ​Establishing market gaps such as the provision for small business skills in the prison population
  • Reading about the competitors

Results of the market research
The research provides evidence of potential market development in the existing customer base as well as further afield. The sector as a whole is doing well and is expected to continue to do so. The only way to be certain is to make the qualification available but all the evidence in terms of the results of our research is that the projected sales targets should be comfortably achieved.


The market for these qualifications is substantial, and there are clear opportunities, locally, nationally and internationally supported by our cost-effective assessment process combined with excellent customer service.

Target Customers
It is anticipated that up to 80% of our sales will be through Training Providers and the remaining 20% sales will be achieved by working with organisations that offer the qualifications in house.

Size of the market
The estimated size of the market is large and in the hundreds of thousands of potential candidates per year. The qualification is a mandatory requirement for anyone handling food. However, to start with TLM will target modest numbers in its own established customer base and for those in centres that have expressed a specific wish for this qualification. It is on these potential clients that the business plan is focused and the cashflow prepared.

Reaching the market
The following methods will be used to reach the market

  • Leaflets
  • Advertisements in trade journals
  • Mail shots
  • Word of mouth
  • Sponsorships of small local events and funfairs
  • Personal contacts
  • Existing TLM centres
  • Yellow pages
  • Internet marketing
  • Social media networking


There are a number of Awarding Bodies offering similar qualifications which presents an obvious challenge in terms of market share, but there is enormous potential as the market demand is huge and we believe we have added dimensions in terms of the use of open source supporting technologies and ease of authentication of certificates. We shall offer good quality of service at a competitive price. Our plans for entering the market slowly and incrementally will reduce risk both in terms of financial commitment and in terms of alerting competitors. We have plans to add new qualifications to maintain and further increase the sales and profitability once the initial offer becomes profitable. Being small and lean means we can adapt quickly to changing market conditions and circumstances.

Competitive Strategy
There are six main ways in which we will create an advantage over our competitors;

  • product identity,
  • quality ,
  • outstanding customer service,
  • high employee motivation,
  • good sales attitude,
  • use of technology in the assessment process

Ultimately the best advertising for us will be through word of mouth from our satisfied customers.

CASHFLOW (link to financial model)

The cashflow model starts with the need to do the market research and to carry out qualification design taking into account any relevant sector strategies. Both the relevant Sector Skills Council and Standards setting Body have been consulted and most of the design work is done. A contingency of £8000 was allocated to aid cash flow in the early stages and sensitivity testing has been carried out on the business model. The entire approach is to reduce financial risk that could have a material effect on the operations already underway. The forecasts show that if targets are achieved the full contingency investment will be repayable within 8 months and after that point profitability will be achieved. In the case of much lower levels of sales, achieved with just 50 qualification units per month across all 3 qualifications it will take 2 years to recover the contingency. Even with no certificates at all, most of the required investment has been committed and so the effect on the company overall would be minimal. On the other hand, there is risk in not doing anything to extend the range of qualifications offered since that makes the company more vulnerable by being dependent on a narrow base that could be affected by legislation or other factors beyond our control.


We shall manage the qualification from our existing premises.
Business address: Unit 4D & 4E Gagarin

Lichfield Road Industrial Estate

Tamworth, B79 7GN

United Kingdom