Paul Collins left IBM to found World Class International (WCI) in 1986. Originally a management consultancy, the company took on a technical bias in 2000 when it merged with 2GL, an IT services firm. WCI now advises clients – including the BBC, Pfizer and Volvo – on how to adapt business processes to the internet. It is also part of the consortium that won the £70m contract in August 2000 to implement NHS Direct, the 24-hour telephone helpline. Partly due to this success, sales at the Portsmouth company have grown 86% a year from £9.6m in 1998 to £62.3m in 2001, when it had 295 employees. Venture capitalist ECI Ventures invested £10m in 2001 to fund further acquisitions.
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