Woodmarque, a specialist joiner and manufacturer for the commercial sector, has been elevated to Exemplar status by InterTradeIreland. The award recognises exceptionally high levels of innovation and collaboration between a company, a graduate and an academic institution as part of InterTradeIreland’s Innovation Boost programme.
The Co. Tyrone firm was the Northern Irish winner. The other companies acknowledged were CBE, Co. Mayo; KORE, Co. Cavan; ITS, Co. Cork and Midland Steel in Co. Laois.
Between them, the five companies have reported sales of more than £300,000 and savings of close to £900,000 during their Innovation Boost projects. Combined, the five SMEs have anticipated sales of upwards of £1.5 million and savings of over £2 million, over the next three years.
Alan Morrow, Assistant Director for InterTradeIreland explains, “Woodmarque’s success is a great example of what the Innovation Boost programme is about - giving firms the tools to boost their business though innovative collaboration.”
“Covid-19 has caused issues for many firms, but innovation is way you can unlock growth. You can also directly address challenges in your business by harnessing programmes like Innovation Boost to help you solve problems. It can even help you to anticipate future obstacles and mitigate them. It will assist you to develop solutions.”
Through the Innovation Boost initiative, Woodmarque employed graduate, Sean McKenna and benefitted from the services and support of the University of Limerick. Together this innovative collaboration set about finding uses for wood waste, a by-product of Woodmarque’s work.
Managing Director Ronan Quinn is quick to point out that this was a new experience for the firm “We’ve been in business for over 40 years, and know our industry inside and out. We specialise in hotels and apartments and projects that we have worked on include the Chelsea Waterfront in London and the North Wall Quay in Dublin. However, this is the first time we have ever worked with someone in academia. It’s been eye opening, in terms of applying innovative research to industry. It brings together the best of both skill sets and helps take an idea and actually turn it into reality.”
Ronan adds, “Having a dedicated graduate, partly funded by InterTradeIreland was invaluable, as it gave us extra manpower and skills to take full advantage of the project. I would recommend Innovation Boost as it gives you the opportunity to meet customer need and helps to future-proof your business.”
John Spillane from the University of Limerick, firmly agrees, “The level of knowledge which is housed in third level education and research institutions is a resource which is largely untapped by industry. These institutions provide a wealth of knowledge and experience.”
“Just reach out to InterTradeIreland and they will link you to suitable academic partners, who have a mutual interest in the areas that you are keen to explore and develop.”
Alan Morrow comments, “The programme is also an indication of areas in which forward thinking SMEs want to build more expertise. For example, Woodmarque is looking at the area of sustainability, which is very high up the business agenda. Other winners this year include firms that have used Innovation Boost to gain more experience in robotics.”
“If you’re keen to bring cutting-edge innovation to your business but you’re not sure where to start, you should think about the Innovation Boost programme. It’s straightforward to apply for and you get funding for specialist help. The 18 month support package is worth up to £56,000. Ultimately it can improve productivity and increase your businesses potential.”
For further information on InterTradeIreland and the business supports available, please visit www.intertradeireland.com