by Richard Buckley, Editor, Business Eye

A County Down plastics company has revolutionised its operations and is winning new contracts thanks to support from the Co-Innovate Programme.   Donite Plastics, which specialises in the design and manufacture of custom moulded plastic parts, uses 3D computer modelling and in house mould making facilities to manufacture production parts including one-off prototypes at its Saintfield workshop.


 

Boasting some of the most high-tech vacuum forming machinery in Ireland, the company, which employs 23, has worked with some of the UK’s leading manufacturing companies as well as successful local companies including racing car manufacturer Crosslé in Holywood and Belfast medical equipment company TruCorp.

 

Since moving to new premises on Station Road in Saintfield last year the company has seen both its turnover and staff numbers double through an innovative new approach.

 

To date, over 500 companies have attended innovation workshops across Northern Ireland to find out more about innovation support available through the Co-Innovate Programme since its launch almost a year ago.

 

In that time Co-Innovate has also run almost 500 business health checks and carried out 140 innovation assessments for small and medium size businesses across Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland. Over 40 businesses, including Donite, have benefited from expert advice to develop their innovation capability.

 

Michael Knight, managing director of Donite Plastics, said: “We’ve always been focused on technical innovation but taking part in the Co-Innovate programme really made us think about our management structure and innovating in other ways which we hadn’t considered before.

 

“As a result we have become much better organised in terms of our management team and strategic operations and have vastly increased our production capacity.

 

“Now we are in a much improved position to go out there and pitch for new work which will make a big difference to our business’ long-term success. We’d definitely encourage other businesses which are experiencing challenges to find out more about the Co-Innovate programme and see how it could help them.”

 

The company will continue to work with Co-Innovate towards a business-academic collaboration to further develop specialised thermoformed plastic panels to be used in off-road and agri-vehicles.

 

Neil Ryan, Co-Innovate Director, said: “We’ve seen remarkable success from participating businesses in the first year of running the project and are delighted that businesses like Donite Plastics are really seeing the benefits of our expertise.

 

“Co-Innovate supports include workshops that demystify innovation, one-to-one business assessments for companies, expert advice and mentoring, and project support to develop new products, processes or services.

 

“In addition 70 businesses will be matched with academic institutions for 12 month research and innovation programmes.

 

“We are also seeking new applications for 19 small to medium companies to take part in business to business research and innovation projects starting over the next year and would encourage those who think they could benefit to get in touch.”

 

Co-Innovate is a project supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB)

 

Any businesses seeking information on the programmes should go to www.co-innovateprogramme.eu to find out more.

 

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Co-Innovate Director Neil Ryan with Donite Plastics’ engineering manager Stephen Kissick (centre) and managing director Michael Knight

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