Going global – with the help of Ward Hadaway | 07 April 09

AN INNOVATIVE online venture is looking to tap into the increasing appetite for consumers to know where things come from – with the help of law firm Ward Hadaway.

Madeinnations.com aims to give consumers more information about exactly where in the world a wide range of popular goods are put together.

The Newcastle-based site, started up by former teacher Graham Rankin, has details on the country of origin for thousands of different items from Apple iPods to Zojirushi coffee makers, giving people the choice of where the goods they buy come from.

As well as finding out which countries consumer goods are made in, the site links in to Google Maps to show the exact location of the cities and even the factories where they are put together where this information is available.

Users can also find out more about the manufacturing processes and how the companies operate via links to articles from respected sources such as the Wall Street Journal and to company websites.

Graham Rankin, who comes from Morpeth, Northumberland, said: “More and more these days, consumers want to know more about where their money is going when they buy things – whether that is from an ethical, moral or patriotic point of view.

“We think people have a right to know where things come from, but too often it’s hard to tell and many manufacturers do not clearly label where they make their goods.

“Madeinnations acts as a single source for all of this information so people can make more informed decisions about where they choose to spend their money.

“This is a real world-first website which can also be an educational tool to teach children and young people about geography, globalisation and modern business.”

Consumers looking to buy North-East can find items including Sunderland-built Nissan cars on the site - wwwmadeinnations.com - as well as the less well known Ibex 4x4 vehicle, which is built in Hexham, Northumberland and is acclaimed as one of the best of its kind in the world.

Graham said: “The North-East has a rich manufacturing history and it remains a thriving sector, although many companies make components rather than finished consumer products.

“Madeinnations is an interactive site so companies in the region who do make finished consumer products are more than welcome to tell us about their work.

“We are also creating a community where users can feed in their own information about products and their countries of origin. All information on the site is rigorously checked before it is posted to ensure accuracy.”

Madeinnations chose law firm Ward Hadaway’s highly respected intellectual property and IT team, led by Alex Shiel, to provide legal advice on the site.

Graham Rankin said: “We chose Ward Hadaway because we needed proper advice from people who are used to innovation and new ideas.

“I was keen to talk to Alex and his team because I know they are genuine specialists in dealing with innovation and new concepts and their help has proved invaluable.”

Alex Shiel, partner and head of intellectual property at Ward Hadaway, said: “Like all the best online ventures, Madeinnations.com takes a simple idea and uses the power of the internet to make it come alive.

“It is also a very timely idea in the current economic climate and we wish Graham and his team all the very best with the site.”

A French language version of madeinnations.com is due to go live in April while Spanish and German versions are being planned for later in the year.

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