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Research & Development key in drive to boost exports

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Innovative research and development (R&D) is helping Northern Ireland companies stay one step ahead of the competition and win business across the world, Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell has said.

The Minister was speaking after two local companies, Copper Industries and Export Technologies, confirmed that, with the help of R&D grants from Invest NI, they have developed new products which they expect to drive sales outside Northern Ireland.

Copper Industries, based in Toome, has developed a new range of efficient tanks which minimise heat loss, while Belfast-based Export Technologies is further developing its International Retail Platform (IRP).

Jonathan Bell said: “Copper Industries and Export Technologies are two success stories from completely different sectors which both show how R&D is the oil that fuels the export engine. Copper Industries has worked to develop new heat efficient tanks and expect three quarters of sales to be outside Northern Ireland, while Export Technologies has a global reach thanks to its innovative approach.

“Research and development is vital if we are to continue to grow our local economy. In order to stay competitive in a global market, companies must continue to ensure they ahead of the game by designing and developing new products and managing effective ways of working. I would encourage companies who have never considered R&D projects to speak to Invest NI about the support available. R&D can enable companies to generate new business by developing new products and services in order to meet the demands of their international customers and is a crucial part of a company’s growth. Like any forward looking company, both Copper Industries and Export Technologies are investing in R&D and expanding their product range to take advantage of emerging opportunities. The development of these products will help these companies to expand their market reach and will ultimately provide fresh revenue streams.”

Charlie Shivers, Managing Director of Copper Industries said: “Continuous R&D was the way forward after the economic downturn and has proved a successful strategy in assisting us to grow our business and export to new markets. With this new R&D project we are aiming to develop a new range of efficient tanks, minimising tank heat loss. This will help us target growth in external markets including Great Britain and the Republic of lreland as well as continue our growth in Northern Ireland.

“We estimate this new product range could generate nearly £1.25million of new sales three years after development is complete, with over 75% of these sales coming from outside of NI. This will be hugely significant for our business.”

Niall McGinnity, Company Secretary, Export Technologies said: “Over the past 15 years we have shown that having the right online platform can directly impact on sales growth and profitability. Thanks to the financial support from Invest NI for R&D, we now have the resources in place to further develop groundbreaking IRP technology. We are delighted that such technical advances in ecommerce have been developed here in Belfast, and now the opportunity for businesses to make more money online is greater than ever before.”

Invest NI is inviting companies to consider the benefits they could gain from investment in innovation through R&D. For companies who are new to R&D, Invest NI is inviting companies who have never undertaken R&D before to apply to a New to R&D assistance which may provide up to £50,000 of support towards R&D costs. You can find out more information on the Invest NI websiteexternal link.

Invest Northern Ireland’s grant for R&D is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014-2020.

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