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Support has been uni-que!

Byline: GRAEME WHITFIELD Business editor @Graemewhitfield

AN engineering company has launched a spin-out firm and brought a new product to market with support from Teesside University.

Darlington firm Ardmore Craig, which provides a range of services to the offshore oil and gas, renewable and marine sectors, has accessed courses and support programmes at the university which have developed the leadership skills of its staff.

Now the Innovate Tees Valley programme has helped the firm launch a new company, Laytrix, which is bringing a new subsea pipe-laying tool to market. The programme - in which the university helps SMEs do new things in their business - saw Ardmore Craig take part in the Sword Innovation programme offered by Excalibur UK, which helped the company develop a series of ideas for new products and services, evaluating their uniqueness, cost to market and opportunity size.

As a result, an idea for a modular offshore equipment spread for the oil and gas sector was spun out into Laytrix and the company was introduced to a fund manager at venture capital funded Mercia Technologies.

An equity and loan deal has been made with Laytrix which has subsequently filed patents for the new product and is looking for further ideas as part of a product range.

Ardmore Craig also participated in the DigitalCity SCALE programme which helps ambitious businesses grow through innovation.

Andy Stevenson, founder and director of Ardmore Craig, said: "We wouldn't be where we are now without the support from Teesside University. By putting us in contact with venture capitalists we've been able to access funding much quicker.

"The university really got us thinking about new products and innovation and how they can benefit our business.

"We're very ambitious and are looking to double our turnover and increase our staff numbers. The SCALE course helped me to step back a little from the business and evaluate whether what we're doing is sensible and see where the flaws in our plans are and identify ideas and solutions."

DigitalCity, which is based at Teesside University and has support from the Tees Valley Combined Authority and the European Regional Development Fund, works with digital and other companies to drive innovation and growth.

Suhail Aslam, Innovate Tees Valley project manager, said: "Ardmore Craig is a great example of a Tees Valley SME which has fully utilised the Innovate Tees Valley project. This has resulted in the company entirely revising its business strategy and approach and has yielded impressive results with the launch of a new joint venture and an innovative, patented product for subsea pipe laying and decommissioning."


Ardmore Craig managing director Andy Stevenson and Suhail Aslam, Innovate Tees Valley project manager

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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Oct 26, 2018
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