Case Study

Orca Scan

Orca Scan Team - tenants at our Guildhall centre
Guildhall tenant Orca Scan

The Business

A barcode scanner app for iOS and Android that allows anyone to create a barcode tracking system without code or technical skills.

Headquartered at the Guildhall Future Business Centre, the Orca Scan team makes barcode technology accessible and affordable to all. Their mission is simple: to keep it simple. As a result, they free people from time-consuming, error-strewn pen-and-paper tracking processes, delivering efficiency and visibility and allowing people to focus on what truly matters.

“We improve efficiencies, increase visibility and allow people to focus on what truly matters.” 

We contacted our friend, Tim Hill, Partnerships Manager at Orca Scan to discuss who they are, how they create a positive impact and what they enjoy about being a part of the ‘Allia Community.’

The challenge - What inspired the business?

Orca Scan was inspired by solving the problem of simplifying barcode tracking. Orca was formed in 2016, when our entrepreneurial CEO and Founder, John Doherty and his son Owen hacked together a solution overnight to help Owen with his summer job of capturing barcodes on solar panels.

They launched this on the App Store and it was an instant hit with the likes of Toyota and others, because, whilst barcodes are everywhere, scanners are not, and Orca Scan could be used on a smartphone. Since then, we’ve grown and teams at Disney, NASA, Amazon, NHS, Apple and many more are using Orca Scan to save time, give them transparency of their assets and production processes, manage risk and improve safety.

Orca brings barcode creation, printing, and scanning together in a solution that works everywhere, on any device, helping organisations get up and running with smartphones and tablets and add Enterprise scanners when needed.

The Impact - What positive impact have you created?

The key positive impact is we give people back time to do their most meaningful work. For example, I’ve seen healthcare teams across the NHS saving themselves over 50% of the time they were previously spending manually tracking boxes of medical devices and drugs. Orca’s Medical Device Tracking solution releases them from hours of tedious form filling, digitises their stock-taking and allows them to focus on patient care and safety.

We work across so many sectors, and whilst people might not think of the humble barcode, a 50-year-old technology, as being that impactful, efficient barcode tracking improves supply chain efficiencies, contributes to more sustainable workflows, smarter last-mile delivery, traceability, less food wastage because of tracking products close to expiry dates…the list of impacts is endless. 

We also created a medical inventory management system for the not-for-profit charity Rescue Now, which helped them deliver humanitarian aid more efficiently in Ukraine.

More recently, we’ve joined a retail revolution, creating a solution to help consumers and brands embrace a new generation of smart QR codes on product packaging. 1D barcodes are getting an upgrade, and this new QR code powered by GS1 enables customers to see product details like allergens, videos, ingredients, recipes, social media links, and more with a quick scan on their smartphone. Our market-leading solution helps companies create and manage GS1 QR codes in the Orca Scan app and connect to consumers like never before.

Orca Scan – GS1 

Relationship with Allia

I met Martin Clark, CEO of Allia Impact, at the launch of his book, The Social Entrepreneur Revolution, back in 2009! Martin inspired me to develop my social entrepreneurial mindset and create a positive impact on others, and we definitely do that at Orca Scan.  Since that day, I have felt like part of the Allia community and admire how they engage entrepreneurs and businesses looking to make positive change. I’ve even benefited from being on Allia’s Climate Accelerator Programme.

Our team fell in love with the iconic Guildhall building. The central location, impact-driven ethos, sense of community and friendly centre team are the main reasons we enjoy being tenants in Cambridge.

The Guildhall hub has given us the opportunity to come together as a team and work on challenges without the constraints of time. We’ve also been able to convert one of our rooms into a ‘creative studio’ to allow us to work collaboratively, create content and provide real-time demonstrations – we love being able to show off our solutions, so pop in and see us!

Every day, we’re welcomed with a smile and support from the centre team.”

Tim Hill, Partnership Manager at Orca Scan

Positive impact

We provide inspiring workplaces, business support and community for start-ups and small businesses so that they can grow and create positive impact.