CREATIVE agency The Distance has racked up a wide range of clients, from start-ups to multi-billion turnover enterprises, in its first year, and is shortlisted for both New Business Of The Year and Best Business and Higher Education Link.

The business, formed when two start-ups owned by founders Ryan Atkins and Anthony Main pooled their expertise in mobile and e-commerce software, started with five people and has grown to a team of 14 within six months.

Following rapid growth, the business employed operations manager Anne-Marie Daniel to introduce new processes, policies and procedures, improving its communication and project management.

The company, based at the Ron Cooke Hub on the University of York ’s new campus development, is surrounded by students, a location it uses to its advantage to train its future workforce, which is crucial in the fast-paced world of mobile and tablet technology, said Anthony, creative director.

“Without an increase in education there will be a major slump in the industry as digital agencies will fail to fill the resource requirements,” he said.

With other like-minded businesses and the University of York, The Distance launched The App Challenge, a competition for 120 students to produce a mobile app, supported by a series of lectures, boot camps and workshops.

The challenge was backed by big names, with local industry figureheads agreeing to discuss their forays into the world of mobile app development as well as a keynote speech by Microsoft.

Anthony is currently working with the winning team, Banter Apps, to bring their concept, Photodiary, to fruition.

The challenge has also been successful in linking the company with students for potential part-time or freelance work, said Anthony.