BRIDGEPORT – Housatonic Community College has won a statewide award for making a Fortune-500 type research tool available to the state’s business community free-of-charge.

The Connecticut Quality Improvement Award Partnership has given the college a silver entry level innovation prize for offering the business community free use of OneSource, the worldwide leader in the high-end business research field. OneSource delivers business information on 700,000-plus large companies worldwide and 13,000,000-plus small to medium U.S. firms.

That information can be used to identify industry trends, markets for new products, potential customers, potential competition, sales prospects, and to develop strategic marketing plans based on this information – everything a company needs to survive in a global economy that is leaving domestic industries behind.

HCC received the award despite increasing competition for the innovation award, said Sheila Carmine, founder and executive director of the 21-year-old Connecticut Quality Improvement Award Partnership. “Every year, the ingenuity of Connecticut’s innovations is more intense. Applicants come from large, super large, medium and small service companies, manufacturers, health care facilities, schools and colleges as well as state, local or federal agencies and other not for profit organizations.”

“Connecticut continues to prove we are an innovative state that not only comes up with innovative ideas but pursues them until they reach their marketplace,” she said.

Schwerdtle Stamp

One Bridgeport company, the Schwerdtle Stamp Company, which has been hurt by overseas competition, has used OneSource to find a life-saving new market. This helped Schwerdtle increase its new market revenues by more than 60 percent in a single year.

Using OneSource confirmed that new government regulations governing wooden pallets spelled opportunity for Schwerdtle, President Kathy Saint said. “Those regulations require that all wooden pallets used for international shipments be marked to indicate that they’ve been heat-treated for bugs.”

Using industry analyst reports and company profiles available through OneSource, Saint quickly discovered that wooden pallet branding irons would fill the bill. And there wasn’t an iron on the market robust enough for this activity.

Into the breach stepped Schwerdtle, which developed such a tool. Subsequently, Saint has launched and experienced the 60 percent revenue increase.

Saint sees the type of information OneSource offers as essential to the survival of companies like hers.

“To survive in the global economy, we need to identify markets and explore them for possibilities, taking into account competition, anticipated sales volume, and competition.” she said. “To do this, we need access to the type of in-depth information that the multi-nationals have access to.”

“Once you have this information, you can identify your market and you can focus the efforts of your entire company on capturing this market.

The problem for small companies like Schwerdtle, she said, has been getting access to this type of information. It is usually priced out of their reach.”

The CQIA award winners are recognized with platinum, gold and silver awards, with platinum being the highest. The awards are based on how well an innovative solution resolved a specific problem.

The college will receive its award at the agency’s 21st Annual Conference on Quality and Innovation Nov. 7 in Westbrook.