Innovation 'Alive And Well Across Ireland'

Several Northern Ireland-based companies are leading the way in innovation as the finalists of the Irish Times InterTradeIreland and All-island Innovation awards 2011 are revealed.

The Portadown renewable energy company, Kingspan Renewables, is competing in the Green-Tech category with its new solar collector product with Andrea Fordham, Marketing Manager, saying: "Our solar collector is a unique product in that it is modular, a first for the solar industry.

"Our product comes in single tubes and different sizes which means solar panels can be fitted to buildings that originally could not be adapted due to restrictions such as skylights or dormer windows.

"We are constantly looking for innovative ways to create new and improved products that will offer efficiency and value for money for our customers and to differentiate ourselves within the market," she said.

Newry-based FM Environmental are in the running with their joint venture InvistaTech in the 'Best North South Collaboration' category.

InvistaTech, a joint venture between Newry-based water treatment firm FM Environmental and Limerick IT company, Central Solutions, is the driver behind the innovative product, Invista SiteVu, which is a turnkey waste water management solution.

Business Development Manager, Michel Fitzpatrick, said: "We are delighted to be one of the finalists.

"This indicates the hard work and dedication that our team has shown in the past year and a half. Our management-system product allows our clients to gain a better understanding of equipment at their plant.

"It indicates condition, the maintenance requirement, replacement needs and the cost, allowing them to centrally collate all the information which can be then be analysed to help make important and strategic decisions," he said.

Another Northern Ireland company is also a finalist in the 'Best North South Collaboration' category.

Moorings Mediquip, makes specialist walking aids for children.

Product Engineer, Eamonn McKnight, said: "Being shortlisted for the Innovation Award is recognition of all our hard work and investment in design and manufacture at Moorings. We feel it is a great achievement to have developed one of the most innovative products throughout Ireland and are excited about the opportunities it will bring," he said.

Now in its second year, the all-island competition aims to recognise and promote the best service, product or operational innovations throughout the island.

The finalists along with 21 other companies throughout Ireland were selected by an independent panel of judges to secure a place at the final and a chance to win the overall 'Innovation of the Year' award and a communications and advertising package from the Irish Times worth €200,000.

InterTradeIreland Strategy and Policy Director, Aidan Gough said: "Despite the economic situation, there is a really encouraging level of innovative activity amongst businesses that is heartening to see.

"Nurturing and supporting talent is a key role of development agencies like InterTradeIreland and we were impressed by the diversity of innovation taking place from organisations of all sizes, sectors and locations across the island.

"The innovations represented by our competition finalists are not only strong ideas - they are market-led and market-focused, answering the needs and demands of the marketplace and backed up by strong business plans," he said.

The winners of the competition will be announced at an awards ceremony in Dublin on 2nd March.


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