University partnership helps He-Man go global

University partnership helps He-Man go global

A Southampton-based manufacturing business is expanding overseas thanks to a knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) with Southampton Solent University.

He-Man Dual Controls is a leading UK supplier of dual controls, developing mechanical products for a range of vehicles, including specialist vehicles, driving school cars and track cars.

The company is now eyeing overseas expansion with its electronic-based products, which are becoming more popular in European countries such as France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, thanks to support from a KTP.

Paul Ferris, managing director at He-Man, says his KTP, a 10-month project, will help the company offer electronic products to most countries.

“Dual controls replicate the controls on the driver’s side. In some countries overseas a visual and audio signal is required by the examiner if a driving instructor touches the pedals during a driving test, but you need an electronic control that does that,” he said.

“There are also a number of vehicles that we currently can’t fit our systems into, so linking one set of pedals to the other electronically is a distinct advantage.

“Products in this market haven’t changed for a long time, so we don’t want to be the dinosaur that misses the new ideas.

“The projects we’re working on with our graduate Josh and Southampton Solent University will mean that we can install products into cars that we previously couldn’t.”

Lasting from anywhere between six months and three years, KTPs allow businesses to benefit from the expertise of universities and recent graduates while receiving government funding.

The scheme has been running for 40 years, and works by using the knowledge of an academic specialist to support a recent graduate, who is hired by a company to fulfil a business need in an area where it lacks knowledge.

This is facilitated by the hired graduate being mentored by the partner university, and funded by the company and Innovate UK, a government body.