Enterprise Ireland Innovation vouchers are an excellent way for Irish SMEs to venture into an innovation project. The Innovation Voucher Scheme was developed to build links between Ireland’s public knowledge providers and small businesses. It provides a €5,000 voucher to explore an innovation opportunity or problem with a registered knowledge provider. There are a large number of knowledge providers based throughout Ireland and you can find a complete list here. The Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway Network has 15 such providers, each with their own specialisation. The network is available to companies of all sizes but especially SMEs. We work closely with each company to provide help, advice and expertise every step of the way.
One such company who availed of help and support from the network is Water Technology Limited (WTL Ireland) based in Cork. Through the Innovation Voucher scheme, WTL collaborated with CAPPA Technology Gateway in Cork Institute of Technology to commence an innovation project and in this blog post, Joseph Harrington, the company’s Development/Formulation Chemist talks to us about their innovation journey and the benefits of the voucher scheme to their company.
Tell us a little about your company
Water Technology Ltd was formed in 1976 by Bernard and Margaret Creedon. Since 1968, Dr Bernard Creedon had amassed experience in the field of industrial water treatment. In 1975, Brendan Cronin and Michael O’Grada founded a Detergents and Process Aids business trading independently.
In 1985, both businesses entered into a collaboration agreement, combining to trade jointly under the Water Technology Ltd brand. The synergistic benefits of the combined expertise and operational cost-efficiency has allowed us to develop and continue to grow exponentially ever since then. This vast experience, in conjunction with our dynamic, forward-thinking teams, has remained the driving force behind our success to date. As such, we are proud to be the first choice for some of the world’s leading dairy, food and beverage, industrial and pharmaceutical companies, who entrust us to deliver on their quality, efficiency and sustainability needs.
When/why did you start your innovation journey
We initiated our innovation journey in June 2018. Our reason for doing this was that we currently blend formulated industrial detergents and process aids. We regularly develop new products. This often requires reverse engineering products currently on the market. A key group of identifying ingredients contained in many of these formulations is surface active agents (surfactants). The analysis of these chemicals often requires the use of sophisticated equipment and procedures. We do not have the in-house facilities to carry out these analyses. This is why we have decided to join forces with the CAPPA Technology Gateway, who are satisfied they have the necessary equipment and expertise to assist us. It is our long term goal to foster a closer relationship with CIT in the future.
What prompted you to apply for an Innovation Voucher?
We aimed to harness the technical expertise of our local Institute of Technology (CIT) to enhance our R&D capabilities.
How did you find the Innovation Voucher process?
We found the process very straight forward as CAPPA and CIT assisted us in every aspect of application and implementation of the voucher.
What was your experience of working with a Technology Gateway?
Very beneficial to our company for both the initial project and also in developing a longer term relationship. CAPPA has been extremely helpful along the way with prompt advice whenever it was required.
How has the Innovation Voucher benefitted your company?
It has allowed us to expand our research and development capabilities. This has enabled us to develop new and improved products for the detergent industry.
How important is the role of innovation to Irish companies like yours?
Water Technology is an SME, so innovation opportunities such as this are extremely valuable to us. As mentioned previously, we do not have the in-house capabilities to undergo extensive R&D so the availability of knowledge and sophisticated equipment was crucial to meeting customer demand and remaining competitive in today’s fast passed environment.