Birmingham SMEs hailed for innovation

Birmingham SMEs hailed for innovation

Birmingham-based SMEs Webster & Horsfall and IMI Truflo Marine have been named as winners in the University of Birmingham’s first Innovation Competition.

Delivered alongside R&D Tax Claims Ltd and Forresters, the competition featured two strands; High-growth Innovative SME of the Year and Best Innovative Idea for Exploitation.

Present to collect the High-growth Innovative SME of the Year award on behalf of Webster & Horsfall, financial director Robert Horsfall was keen to emphasise the link between his company’s R&D investment and their steady increase in turnover during the past few years.

“It is fundamentally important to Webster & Horsfall’s future that we invest in research and development”, said Robert. “For a company that will be 300 years old in 2020, if we want to survive for another 100 years then we need to be focused on R&D.”

In the Best Innovative Idea for Exploitation strand, IMI Truflo Marine impressed the competition panel with their plans to develop a novel valve which could potentially be sold into the civil nuclear, oil and gas markets.

The development of the valve has been assisted by a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with the university which has seen academics work hand-in-hand with IMI to develop its innovative idea.

Technical director Rob Watson praised the support provided by academic Karl Dearn and KTP associate Catalin Pruncu, saying: “The university gives us a focus, and has inspired us to put a lot more effort into a more academic view of the practical things that we do every day as well as enabling Truflo to up skill our work force.”

For Karl and Catalin, the award is the latest development in what is proving to be a successful relationship between the university and company. “Truflo is a project where it is very easy to demonstrate a great deal of impact,” says Karl (senior lecturer, department of mechanical engineering).

“It’s been an exciting project, as we’ve moved from fundamental research to understand the underlying physics in the valve, through the design process to what we think is a very innovative, unique product that has the potential to differentiate Truflo from its competition.”